The 23rd annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival in Macon features a week’s worth of events designed to celebrate the end of slavery in the United States.
“Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. This holiday originated in Galveston, Texas, in 1866 and today, Juneteenth celebrates African American freedom and emphasizes the importance of education and achievement,” explained George Fadil Muhammad, spokesperson for the festival.
“Juneteenth is an observance and a celebration embracing knowledge, education, pride, renewed responsibility, hope and empowerment. We invite people to embrace it for themselves, share it, support it and use it to enrich all in our community today, especially our youth. It is our legacy, a gift from our ancestors.”
The 10th annual Real Talk Hip-Hop Summit returns to the Douglass Theatre as part of the festival from 10 a.m.-noon Friday, and to the Rosa Jackson Center from 4-8 p.m. According to Muhammad, both locations will feature free performing workshops, a community forum and mini-concert “showcasing the integrity and art of hip-hop and magnifying the awareness, wisdom and responsibility” of local youth.
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On Saturday, participants will gather for the 23rd annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival at Tattnall Square Park. Taking place from 1-9 p.m., the festival represents a “tribute to our ancestors marking 150 years,” Muhammad said.
“The Juneteenth Freedom Festival has historically been one of the most innovative, rich, unique, enjoyable and accessible displays of Afrocentric arts and talent in Middle Georgia. In fact, Macon’s Juneteenth has faithfully nurtured local grass-roots awareness of a beautiful and wide ranging black cultural heritage for years and we will continue to do so this year,” he said.
Performances include Terrie Ajile Axam’s Total Dance Theatre, the Middle Georgia Jazz and Blues Allstars, the Dream Tour, Tour Hip-Hop Suite “Appreciation Live,” Dean Brown Band and other live music and poetry.
Additionally, there will be a Black Union Soldiers Living History presentation by Lonnie Davis, and exhibits about topics ranging from personal health and organic gardening to soccer and golf. There also will be a variety of children’s games and food and accessories vendors.
“The holiday is officially recognized in 40 states,” Muhammad said. “What Juneteenth commemorates is a priceless sacrifice, suffering and commitment to freedom and achievement that noble generations of black Americans freely gave so we could enjoy and embrace a better life today and inherit a greater destiny to come.”
“It also represents a new independence for a people who were American slaves in 1775, even as the United States declared its independence from Great Britain and yet have given their lives on the front lines for the United States to remain free and independent in every war from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War to the World Wars, Vietnam and every conflict in between up to this very moment,” he said.
When: June 12, 10 a.m.-noon at the Douglass Theatre, 355 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.; 4-8 p.m. at the Rosa Jackson Center, 1211 Maynard St.
When: 1-9 p.m. June 13
Where: Tattnall Square Park, downtown Macon