CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The United States will soon have a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery.
The House voted 415-14 on Wednesday to make Juneteenth, or June 19th, the 12th federal holiday. The bill now goes to President Joe Biden’s desk, and he is expected to sign it into law.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. That was also about 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the Southern states.
“Surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly, a lot of people did not know of Juneteenth, the significance of Juneteenth, and the fact that there were people who, after the Emancipation Proclamation was approved and put into order there were still people who were not free,” said Tiffany Perkins, who organized the Clarksville Juneteenth Block Party. “To some people that seems bizarre but that’s a lot of the history we are not told.”
Last year, Montgomery County voted to approve Juneteenth as an official paid holiday for county employees. In February, the Clarksville City Council designated Juneteenth as a paid holiday for city employees. The Clarksville Juneteenth Block Party is Saturday at the downtown commons from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. There will be food from Pop and Dogs, Brutha’s BBQ, Lumpia Lumpia Lumpia, Georgia Mae’s Pecan Pies, SoSo Slush, Kadi’s Tacos and more.
“I think it’s just this heightened awareness of blackness and of community,” said Perkins, who added they’ll have educational opportunities at the event as well. “I really appreciate the number of people who are trying to learn and understand the importance of having these cultural celebrations and these cultural celebrations being recognized as national holidays. It’s opened up a lot of conversations to try and find understanding.”
There are several other events being planned to help celebrate Juneteenth in Middle Tennessee:
THURSDAY – June 17
Authors Night – Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center – Murfreesboro – Local authors will discuss their literary works and sign books from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Juneteenth Freedom Day Unchained – Austin Peay State University – University’s Spirit Rock – The event will provide historical information about the holiday, performances, and vendors from local, Black-owned businesses. The celebration will conclude with a fireworks show at sunset – 6:00 p.m.
FRIDAY – June 18
Youth Night – Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center – Murfreesboro – The event will highlight the creative minds of local youth, showcasing poets, artists, and musicians from 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
SATURDAY – June 19
“Freedom Day” – Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center – Murfreesboro – Activities include a kids’ zone, food vendors, artists, and live music and dancing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Juneteenth – Gallatin – From 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Clearview Park
Clarksville Juneteenth Festival – Wilma Rudolph Event Center in Liberty Park – celebrate freedom and the rich history and culture of Black African Americans through music, live performances, food, poetry, story telling, art, literature, dance and more from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Nashville Zoo – Launches new history feature called the Morton Family Exhibit. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. at the cabin behind the Zoo’s Grassmere Historic Home.
Tennessee State Museum – Nashville – Black History tours at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Music City Freedom Festival: Nashville’s Juneteenth Celebration – 12:00 p.m. at Hadley Park. Food trucks, vendors and inflatables will be at the event and it goes until 6 p.m.
Juneteenth Block Party – National Museum of African American Music – Nashville – from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the rooftop of 5th & Broadway. Organizers say there will also be a Juneteenth On the River celebration. This event is free and open to the public.
Juneteenth615- Fort Negley Park – Nashville – Proclamation ceremony, music, food trucks, fireworks, and musical entertainment with an appearance by Mayor John Cooper at 5 p.m.
SUNDAY – June 20
Juneteenth Community Celebration – Gallatin – Food trucks, vendors, bounce houses, etc., from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at 536 Blythe Avenue