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As the sun sets on Juneteenth 2019.

Here's some (rough) footage from Saturday's beautiful and meaningful Juneteenth celebration that was held at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center and organized by Kemone Hendricks.

June 19 is celebrated as Juneteenth in honor of one of the final acts of emancipation of slaves in the U.S.

About 100 Evanston residents filled the upstairs space at the cultural center to celebrate this important date, which, as Hecky Powell encouraged Evanston's 5th ward Alderman Robin Rue Simmons to do, should be proclaimed an Evanston holiday--and in fact should be recognized as a national holiday.

Last year the U.S. Senate did pass a bill that would recognize Juneteenth Independence Day, but it has not yet been approved in the House.

Guests enjoyed Hecky's BBQ, along with his special, traditional Juneteenth strawberry soda, learned the fascinating story behind Juneteenth from Evanston expert Baxter Swilley, and heard Powell's family history--his great-grandfather and his great-grandmother were born into slavery.

Artist Fran Joy showed her painting of Emmett Till and told the story behind his brutal murder in Mississippi at the hands of a white mob.

Singer songwriter Tukki Tukkiman who recently moved to Evanston by way of Senegal and then France, accompanied spoken-word artist Nyce Landry who performed a powerful piece about slavery, freedom, and his experience as a Black man today. Tukki played a couple of his own songs as well.

Juneteenth began in Galveston, Texas where on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major Gen. Gordon Granger landed with news that the Civil War had ended and slaves were free.

The announcement came two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 that had ended slavery in the U.S.

But, since that proclamation was made during the Civil War, it was ignored by Confederate states. It wasn't until the end of the war that the Executive Order was enforced in the South.

In a moving and powerful tribute to the solemnity and celebration of the day, Swilley asked the audience to stand as he read Granger's order:

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."

Around the country, Juneteenth is often commemorated with barbecues and strawberry soda. Other red foods such as red rice (rice with tomatoes), watermelon and red velvet cake are also popular: the red foods commemorate the blood that was spilled during the days of slavery.

Hoping next year there are so many people who attend the event that it will need to be celebrated at a larger venue!

Here's Celebrate, by poet Nyce Landry.

Celebrate celebrate celebrate

It’s amazing we escaped that fate

Blessed to live a life in the light

To bring light to the dark

And allow our past to shine a way

Celebrate celebrate celebrate

Mazeltov I guess I should say

emancipation of Blacks is one thing

But why do we still feel like slaves

Especially since the number spans

Over 200k in one state

I guess they didn’t get the memo of a new day


Celebrate celebrate celebrate

A proclamation that would make America Great is underway

No longer 3/5s of a man we stand

And freedom is close enough to taste

And as the civil war concludes

Injustices ensued still in the union states

But wait, I thought the rhetoric passed

Wouldn’t allow for enslavement to last

Yet only the confederates couldn’t eat the cake

Make no mistake, the war on slavery

Was only made to seize control

And not only hold all the cards

For the game of thrones they played

But also clone the image of free trade

And capitalism to take place

It seems to me like we were played

And the history books white washed

We seen hero’s made with a moral compass and integrity in honest Abe

To free those slaves and distribute justice in which our praise

Uplifted a notion of a nation

That took pride in saying

We’ll all be equal someday

Yet still

Celebrate Celebrate Celebrate

It only took two years for that notion

To be sustained and over another hundred for civil rights to take shape

Was it all worth the wait?

Cause even til this day I feel misplaced

Over-used and underpaid

Limited opportunities presented my way

Living to a standard my skin color

Didn’t have a hand in creating

Ruled by a system that still oppresses

My fate

But, I don’t want to make this about Race

Or insinuate that I’m being held back

Due to the pigment I display

Instead I set praise to the day Real change broke through and allowed freedom to take shape

June 19th 1865 will forever be a monumental day


Celebrate celebrate celebrate

And never forget

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