Many of us may believe that the official day of freedom for African-Americans, who suffered through the agonizing years of slavery, is January 1, 1863, the day that President Lincoln abolished slavery. Well, NEWS FLASH! Not all slaves were aware that they were free, specifically in our own back yard of Galveston, Texas.
On, June 19, 1865, a Union solider read the proclamation that all slaves at the the now Reedy Chapel AME Church were to be freed and treated as equal persons. This day marked the TRUE day of freedom, a whole two years after the Emancipation Proclamation!
Early celebrations were ways for newly freed slaves to rally and give voting instructions to new voters. There was a decline in celebrations in the early 20th century due to Blacks being somewhat ashamed of their enslaved past and young generations of Blacks being more preoccupied with their studies and upward mobility. Texas officially declared Juneteenth as a state holiday on January 1, 1980.
Today we see a rebirth of Juneteenth celebrations with parades, pageants, concerts, festivals, and backyard barbecues. The DFW metroplex has several in-person events planned this year as we fight through this coronavirus pandemic. Check out the many ways you and your family can celebrate freedom below.
Scheduled In-Person and Virtual Events
Ms. Juneteenth Scholarship Fort Worth Pageant: Although the virtual pageant took place May 22, the crowning ceremony happens June 5th. Contestants will receive a scholarship to further their education.
Ms. Juneteenth The Movie: Gather your family and have a home movie night and watch this award winning film shot right here in Fort Worth. Check out the trailer here. You can watch on iTunes, Amazon Prime, FandangoNow, or any other digital streaming service.
Juneteenth Celebration Parade, March, and Festival: The parade will begin at 10:00 a.m. and leave from William Blair Jr. Park and go all the way to Fair Park where you can enjoy a festival of events including a car show, hair show, spades tournament, and more.
Ms. Opal’s Walk: Join 94-year-old Ms. Opal as she makes her yearly, historic 2.5 mile walk from Evans Avenue Plaza to the Tarrant County Courthouse in historic downtown Fort Worth to commemorate Juneteenth. There will be a caravan of cars following Ms. Opal. Please join and decorate your cars for this ride!
Fort Worth Opera Juneteenth Jamboree: In partnership with Ms. Opal’s Walk, the Fort Worth Opera will perform on the Tarrant County Courthouse steps following the historic walk.
Juneteenth FTW Festival: Come out and celebrate freedom with music, food, and support local vendors from 1:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Panther Island. The day will culminate with a fireworks show.
Best Southwest Juneteenth Celebration: Desoto will host the celebration as it joins forces with the cities of Cedar Hill, Lancaster, and Duncanville. Bring lawn chairs and blankets for a family friendly event.
Juneteenth Unity Games: Gather your friends and enter into a competition of fun games at The Colony Five Star Complex, including hop scotch, potato sack racing, tug of war, and more. Participants must be 16 years or older. If you have little ones, they do have a face painting, sidewalk chalk, and fun games for their age group.
World Sickle Cell Day and Juneteenth Celebration: Bring the family for a fun-filled day of food, live entertainment, giveaways, and more at the Fort Worth Water Gardens to celebrate freedom and finding a cure to sickle cell disease.
Juneteenth Entrepreneur’s Scholarship Program Fundraiser and Celebration: You are invited to the Entrepreneurs Scholarship Program Reception and Benefit Dinner at the Home2Suites Hilton Hotel in Desoto. The 2021 scholarship recipients will be recognized. Funds raised go to reduce and eliminate student debt, as well as observe the Juneteenth holiday. Tickets can be purchased HERE.
Juneteenth Commem-Art-Ration: This event is for my visual art aficionados. Join the spectacular artist, Jessica Williams, and DFW’s top 20 artist for a showcase of its Black art at the Gramercy Building in Fort Worth.