Juneteenth festivals celebrate a better America

Multiple celebrations to be held across the region

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Long before Congress designated it a national holiday, June 19 has been celebrated as “Juneteenth,” honoring the day in 1865 when enslaved Americans in Galveston, Texas, finally received word that they were free from bondage — more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. Juneteenth National Independence Day is now a federal holiday, with regional festivals that recognize our difficult U.S. history, and ultimately rejoice in freedom for all.

CHESTERTOWN, MD

Frederick Douglass Juneteenth Celebration

The Frederick Douglass Juneteenth Celebration “Day of Acknowledgment” will celebrate the history, culture, and achievements of African American life on the Eastern Shore. The Chestertown weekend will serve as a collective act of service and celebration of Black history.

There will be a public block party on Friday, June 17, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Fountain Park (between High Street and Memorial Plaza). Performances include the Dell Foxx Company cover band and magician Anthony Ware.

Then, Saturday, June 18, events range from 12 to 8 p.m. at the waterfront Wilmer Park (S. Cross Street): Sombarkin’, the Gerry Werner Band, magician Anthony Ware, drinks, fun and games. The Garfield Theater will also host Frederick Douglass reenactor Phil Darius Wallace.

Local tributes include the Charlie Graves historic signage reveal and Frederick Douglass Community Activism Award Ceremony.

This will be a day of education about the African American experience that will have meaningful impact on the Eastern Shore community, and it will serve as a model for creating day of acknowledgement events elsewhere in the state.

Furthermore, considering social uprisings drawing local and national attention to African American histories and experiences, this event will connect the Eastern Shore’s Black history with the Eastern Shore’s role in the founding and ongoing development of our nation.

This event is hosted by the Bayside H.O.Y.A.S. (Helping Our Youth Achieve Success). Learn more at facebook.com/BaysideHoyas2013.

SALISBURY, MD

Eastern Shore Juneteenth Parade & Festival

The Eastern Shore Juneteenth Festival & Parade is organized by a not-for-profit organization on Saturday, June 18. Through an annual Juneteenth celebration, Eastern Shore Juneteenth intends to bring the community together to celebrate Black culture and achievement; to provide community education on Black history and the ongoing struggle for civil rights; and to create a safe space for Black creativity and expression.

The free event is split into two parts: the parade at 1 p.m. (Main Street Plaza) and festival until 6 p.m. (N. Division Street). The festival will include vendors, children’s activities, and other entertainment for the entire family.

Free parking is available in the Downtown Salisbury Parking Garage on Market Street, as well as in the Wicomico County Library parking lot, and on neighboring streets. Learn more at esjuneteenth.com.

GEORGETOWN, DEL.

Juneteenth Celebration

The Richard Allen Coalition, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Sussex Alumnae Chapter, the Restoration Worship Center and Everlasting Hope Ministries will host the seventh annual celebration on Saturday, June 18.

It will feature a 10 a.m. parade, followed by a program at 11 a.m. on the historic Richard Allen School grounds at 316 S. Railroad Avenue, Georgetown, Del.

Jane Hovington, president of the Richard Allen Coalition, said her intent is for representation of the entire community. The singing of the Black national anthem by Dr. Malinda Hudson will kick off festivities at the school. The Rev. John Moore will speak as well. Last year’s Juneteenth event was well attended, even though it was still during the pandemic, but organizers are expecting more attendees in 2022. Dignitaries scheduled to appear include Georgetown Mayor Bill West, State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn and State Rep. Ruth Briggs King.

The day includes food and craft vendors, community organizations and vital health checks. There also will be a variety of activities for kids and entertainment, including musical selections and dance performances. Returning this year will be members of the Nanticoke Indian Association and their dance routines.

The parade will begin at M&T Bank near The Circle, and travel east on E. Market Street, turning right onto S. Railroad Avenue and ending at the school.

Also known as Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day and Black Independence Day, Juneteenth became a federal holiday in June 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act. Learn more at richardallenschoolgeorgetown.com.