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Juneteenth: America's Real Independence Day

(with a tribute to Juneteenth champion, proponent, and enthusiast Hecky Powell)

Mark your calendars for 6 p.m. on Friday, June 19, 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 20; and 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 27 when Evanston will commemorate and celebrate its first Juneteenth Parade with virtual programming featuring local leaders and residents, a tribute to the late businessman, activist, and philanthropist Hecky Powell, song and dance, a reading of the play "A Day of Absence," calls to action, and a car parade!

More here and here.

**A Bit About Juneteenth**

Each year we celebrate July 4 as America's Independence Day, a celebration of freedom from Great Britain and from tyranny--gained in 1776. But it would be another 87 years before enslaved people in America would get their freedom in 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation--and two more years for enslaved people in Texas to find out that they had in fact been freed.

That happened on June 19, 1865, when federal troops arrived in Texas to finally bring the news.

Though Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom, we all know that, as civil-rights attorney Bryan Stevenson says, "Slavery didn't end in 1865, it just evolved."

Current events have demonstrated that all too clearly, and it's in the spirit of looking back to get ahead (the concept of Sankofa) that this Juneteenth will be celebrated.

**Record a Tribute to Hecky Powell**

In a truly devastating twist, Hecky Powell, Evanston's foremost proponent of the Juneteenth holiday for many years, passed away late last month from Covid-19. Hecky was to have played a central part in the celebrations. In his honor, a tribute is being organized in which all of Evanston is invited to participate.

Tim Rhoze, artistic director of Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre and a close friend of Hecky's has organized a way--in these times of social distancing--to pay respects to Hecky through a video montage to which everyone is encouraged to contribute here.

The video will be played during the Juneteenth celebrations.

Dear Evanston is proud to be a sponsor of Evanston's 2020 Juneteenth parade and I hope you'll sign up and join in!

I'll be posting a variety of highlights as we move toward June 19 and 20, so please stay tuned on our Facebook page or here at, on the Juneteenth website, and on the FB event page here.

Thanks to Evanston resident Kemone Hendricks whose nonprofit organization Evanston Present and Future is organizing this series of events.

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