Juneteenth: re-connect + reengage + rejuvenate = renaissance
The annual celebration of Juneteenth will take place tomorrow Saturday, June 20, from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. in the historic neighborhood of Five Points along the Welton Street corridor. Join the Denver Public Library - Blair-Caldwell Library as we celebrate an important historical transition in American history with great food, vendors selling an array of wares and live music and performances.
Schedule of Events:
Parade: 10 a.m.
Job Fair: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. (27th and Welton St)
Festival: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
From the outside Juneteenth appears to be just another summer festival, but is it? What is Juneteenth really about?
According to the National Registry: Juneteenth Organizations & Supporters website, “Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.” President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863, had little effect on slaves in Texas due to resistance and the small deployment of Union troops sent to enforce the Executive order. The life of a slave in Texas continued despite the fact that slavery had officially ended two and a half years prior. On June 19th, 1865 General Gordon Granger, led Union soldiers to Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and slaves were free. The combination of General Granger’s soldiers and the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865 finally overcame slave holder influence.
Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is also celebrated all over the world. In Denver, the Juneteenth celebration began in the early 1950s and eventually grew to be one of the nation’s largest celebrations of its kind in the 1980s. As economic and social challenges began to plague Denver in the early 1990s, Juneteenth’s image was negatively impacted due to violence during the festival. As a result, attendance and interest in the festival drastically declined.
In 2012, the Juneteenth Music Festival LLC was formed by a group of entrepreneurs who recognized the opportunity to reinvent the image of Juneteenth and rebrand the celebration to the city of Denver. Under new leadership Juneteenth is committed to “engaging the community with the historical significance of Juneteenth, while creating a framework for economic and educational empowerment in youth and adults. The Juneteenth Music Festival facilitates events which support redevelopment and elimination of financial blight in Denver, Colorado’s Historic Five Points Neighborhood.” Through the efforts of local community resource organizations, city agencies, corporate and individual sponsors and donors the festival has evolved and taken on new life and vibrancy.
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