Celebrating Juneteenth is as necessary today as it has ever been. So it's with honor that Dear Evanston is a co-sponsor of Evanston's first Juneteenth parade, presented by Evanston Present and Future, which will be celebrated on June 20--adapted to these Covid-19 days.
"Juneteenth has always been touched with irony," writer Vann Newkirk wrote in The Atlantic magazine in 2017. "Although it is the most popular Emancipation Day holiday in the country, it marks neither the legal or the de facto end of slavery in the country."
Juneteenth, for anyone who hasn't yet heard of the holiday, commemorates the Emancipation Proclamation, the 1863 executive order that technically freed enslaved people in the rebel states. But news of the executive order took two years to get to Galveston, Texas. It was only on June 19, 1865, that General Gordon Granger solidified the emancipation--two years delayed--of the 25,000 enslaved people in that state.
As we witness the inequities in our own community and throughout the country--in health, nutrition, housing, and jobs--upon which Covid-19 has shone a brutal light, and as we contemplate the most recent murders of a young Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, for "jogging while Black," and Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, we're impelled to recognize, as Newkirk says, "that as a national holiday, Juneteenth, immersed as it is both in the canon of old history and in the ongoing struggle for civil rights, would be the only one that celebrates liberty in America as it actually is: delayed."
Join the commemoration and celebration!
6 p.m., Friday June 19th: Digital Juneteenth Celebration
The program will be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube and will feature: Robin Rue Simmons 5th Ward Alderman; Shorefront Legacy Center, the Juneteenth Creative Dance Team, music by Gilo Kwesi Cornell Logan and SOUL Creations, a tribute to the late Hecky Powell, and presentations by co-sponsors.
7 p.m., Saturday June 20: Virtual community play reading of "Day of Absence," by Douglas Turner Ward.
In "Day of Absence," the white residents of a southern town wake to find all the Black people gone. As shoes go un-shined and babies unfed, the municipality devolves into chaos. It isn’t long before even the segregationist mayor is begging: “I’ll be kneeling in the middle of Dixie Avenue to kiss the first shoe of the first one ’a you to show up. Erase this nightmare ’n’ we’ll concede any demand you make, just come on back — please?”
A “reverse minstrel show,” “Day of Absence” is performed by black actors in whiteface, except for a white actor who appears as an announcer, and a Black actor who comes on in the end without benefit of cosmetics.
You will need this YouTube link to participate.
Visit the Juneteenth store for merch such as t-shirts, earrings, and sweatshirts here.
Stay tuned for plans as they develop, and read more of Vann Newkirk's article about Juneteenth here.