CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The inaugural Juneteenth Festival in Clarksville is planned for Saturday when June 19th became an official national holiday marking the end of slavery.
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.
“It is important that all residents of Clarksville know that they are welcomed to attend and be a part of a momentous event,” said April Sledge, Events Committee Chairwoman. “Juneteenth is a part of America’s forgotten history. It is essential that we expose all Americans to the importance of the African American influence on society.”
The event is being hosted by the organization Manifest Magic Black Girl Cooperative. The group was founded by army veteran Juanita Charles. She says she hopes this Juneteenth event is an opportunity for the Clarksville community to learn, uplift, and empower.
“To be a part of a movement bringing the inaugural Juneteenth festival to Clarksville that allows marginalized people, people whose identities have relegated them to otherness and second class citizenship, to bring this to this community in a way that allows them to show up in their authenticity and be proud of who they are, to relish in their history and their identity, in their culture, in their music, in their literature, in their art, and to bring this to adults and kids alike,” she said. “People like me who have been relegated to otherness for the fact that they are black, they are other than whatever the status quo says they should be, to bring this and allow them to show up in their authenticity and be proud and relish in it and love them for who they are. This is a feeling that is incomparable. I’ve never felt anything like it before because you don’t the fruit that this will bear is something that the repercussions will be felt through history.”
The event comes during the first year since Clarksville and Montgomery County both voted to recognize Juneteenth as an official paid holiday for government workers.
Clarksville’s first Juneteenth festival will be from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Wilma Rudolph event center in Liberty Park. There will be music, live performances, food, poetry, story telling, art, literature, dance and more.
Visit JuneteenthFestivalClarksville.com for more information.