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17 June 2021

Juneteenth 6/19/21

Juneteenth is a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Despite the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, declaring ‘that all persons held as slaves’ be freed, the news didn’t reach Texas until two years later on June 19, 1865. Black Americans began using this day to pray and spend time with their remaining family members, and the holiday grew in popularity over time.  More about this holiday below, including the important role traditional music played from the very start.  Juneteenth is a time to celebrate African American freedom, education, and achievement.
Congress on 6/16/21 voted overwhelmingly to establish Juneteenth as a federal holiday, elevating the day marking the end of slavery in Texas to a national commemoration of emancipation amid a larger reckoning about America’s turbulent history with racism.  It is the first new federal holiday created by Congress since 1983, when lawmakers voted to establish Martin Luther King Jr. Day after a 15-year fight to commemorate the assassinated civil rights leader.  The vote was heralded as a milestone in the effort to foster a greater recognition of the horrors of slavery in the United States and the long history of inequality that followed emancipation and continues to this day.
At YTV’s September 2020 annual meeting we committed to ensuring that programs and activities be designed to address racial justice and racial equity, using suggested recommendations created as a follow up to a ‘More Than Hope’ event on 8/21/20.  The event included words and music from a variety of current and past board members, funder representatives and other guests.  That was followed by a 1/12/21 conversation facilitated by YTV board member Hannah Assefa with special guests Regina Carter, Layla McCalla and Afa Dworkin.  
This focus is not a new commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion for YTV, but an opportunity to strengthen and focus on specific activities and outcomes that can be renewed and built upon year after year.  This would be done through YTV’s own activities and as a foundation for our collaboration with other organizations.  YTV has presented and will continue to present artists and program material that reflects the full range of people – past, present and future – who contribute to our mission of inspiring, teaching, performing and community service young people using traditional music and dance.  Thanks to so many who have joined us in these efforts, including: Kaia Kater, Rhiannon Giddons, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Leyla McCalla, Cedric Watson, Regina Carter, Odetta, John Jackson, Memphis Slim, Dom Flemmons, African Children’s Choir, Jim Brewer, Howard Armstrong, and many more…..
Juneteenth and African American Traditional Music
by Lamont Jack Pearley
Juneteenth should always be mentioned with the term “African American Traditional Music!” Juneteenth is the celebration of the releasing of the last remaining slaves after the emancipation proclamation and civil war. In 1865, June 19 Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger shared the news that the war is over and the slaves were now free, in Galveston, Texas.  Ironically, this freedom came after the actual date of 1863, when Lincoln made his declaration. Though, the first documented celebration of emancipation dates back to March 2, 1807, when Congress passed a bill to halt the importation of ‘slaves’ into the United States, effective January 1, 1808, which prompted Absalom Jones, a pastor at St. Thomas’s African Episcopal Church in Philadelphia to call for a special commemoration of the ban. ‘Let January 1, the day of the abolition of the slave trade in our country, be set apart every year, as a day of public thanksgiving for that mercy,’ he declared. The 1808 ban fueled annual public observances, primarily religious gatherings in northern cities such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, called Emancipation Day.
full article at