Juneteenth 2024: An RTM News Series

Finding freedom in a place known as the land of the free. On Jan. 1, 1863, Union soldiers entered plantations in the American South to announce the end of slavery by reading the Emancipation Proclamation. But freedom would not become a reality for thousands of Black people who remained in bondage two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Confederate state of Texas would only relinquish the horrid system of slavery after Gen. Gordon Granger, along with over 2,000 Union soldiers, marched into Galveston Bay, Texas on June 19, 1865.

By order of executive decree, the last 250,000 enslaved Black people were free. In 1866, the celebration known as “Juneteenth” would become a time to rejoice for Black people in Galveston, and eventually became a tradition mostly celebrated in the Southern region. 

For decades, Juneteenth celebrations in the South would feature parades, pageants, and festivals that provided opportunities for camaraderie and education.   

President Joe Biden declared Juneteenth a national holiday in 2021, giving it mass appeal and connecting the nation’s past to the present. 

In a series that features exclusive interviews, photos, and videos, Juneteenth is explored through the scope of Real Times Media’s News Team which consists of New Pittsburgh Courier, Atlanta Daily World, Chicago Defender, and Michigan Chronicle

We invite you to embark on this journey as the RTM News Team captures the essence of Juneteenth. 

By: A.R. Shaw 

 

 

 

Exclusive: National Geographic Presents “Clotilda: The Return Home”—A Journey Of Remembrance And Reconciliation Ahead Of Juneteenth

By: Hunter Gilmore

National Geographic recently premiered “Clotilda: The Return Home,” a deeply moving one-hour special airing on Disney+. 

This poignant documentary reveals the untold story of the last American survivors of the Clotilda ship, Cudjo “Kossola” Lewis and Gumpa Lee, and commemorates their extraordinary journey in honor of Juneteenth.

Led by National Geographic Explorer Tara Roberts, the special features descendants Altevese, Garry, Cassandra, and Delisha, who trace their ancestors’ steps from the shores of West Africa to the heart of America. 

This journey, rich with remembrance and reconciliation, offers a compelling narrative of resilience, hope, and the unyielding spirit of a community forged in defiance of oppression.

In an exclusive interview with ADW, Tara Roberts reflected on the inspirations that led her to this remarkable journey. “I have spent the last six years following, diving with, and telling stories with a group of Black scuba divers who search for slave shipwrecks,” Roberts said…Read More Here

 

A COURIER SPECIAL REPORT: Some 30 Years Ago, WAMO Began “Juneteenth” Celebrations In Pittsburgh 

By: Rob Taylor Jr.

Courier takes a historical look at Juneteenth in Pittsburgh

Before Highmark Stadium and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds…

Before the “T” went underwater and over to the North Side…

Before they renamed the stadium “Cupples” Stadium…

There was something that thousands of African Americans attended each June, but the vast majority of the young people who attended never understood the significance of; WAMO’s “Juneteenth” celebration.

THE FIRST JUNETEENTH CELEBRATION IN PITTSBURGH

The date was Saturday, June 19, 1993. A nice day outside. If you were WAMO general manager Alan Lincoln, it was the perfect day to make history, as WAMO set up a stage in a parking lot used for a Farmers Market on the North Side, near the old Allegheny Center Mall and the current Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. 

It was promoted as WAMO’s “Juneteenth” celebration, and in addition to local talent, the main attractions on that day were Super Cat and female R&B group Sudden Change.

“We knew ‘Juneteenth’ was celebrated more in the South and we brought it to Pittsburgh, we wanted to see how it would go,” voiced Jay Jay Stone, the former WAMO night and afternoon personality who was at that very first Juneteenth celebration in 1993. “It actually blew our minds that folks really came out to support it.”

There are some people who remember Pittsburgh’s very first Juneteenth celebration, thanks to WAMO…Read More Here

 

Black Women Will Legacy Week: A Juneteenth Celebration Of Estate Planning And Wealth Transfer

By: Hunter Gilmore

The Thank Me Later Foundation (TMLF) is gearing up for their highly anticipated Black Women Will Legacy Week, a weeklong celebration dedicated to empowering Black families through estate planning and financial education. 

This event, supported by a generous $25,000 grant from Bank of America (BofA), will run from Monday, June 17th to Sunday, June 23rd, concluding with the 4th annual Black Women Will Homecoming event on November 16th. 

“We share the mission of The Thank Me Later Foundation to preserve wealth in the Black community, which is why we directed this strategic philanthropic investment in the Black Women Will event,” Al McRae, president, Bank of America Atlanta, said. “This grant represents our commitment to fostering economic growth and wealth preservation in our city.”

Jini Thornton, CPA and Executive Director of TMLF says, “Bank of America has been a supporter since year one. They have really been boots on the ground with us, too. They are our largest volunteer based organization so they really show up, sign up, roll their sleeves up and get to work and support our organization.”

More than 70% of Black individuals living in America don’t have some form of estate planning in place. TMLF has made it their mission to help Black families secure their financial futures and pass on generational wealth…Read More Here

 

Oakland County’s Juneteenth Event Spotlights Underground Railroad: A Celebration of History, Freedom, and Unity

By: Ebony JJ Curry

Oakland County’s second annual Juneteenth celebration is set to be a remarkable event, shining a spotlight on the Underground Railroad and its vital role in the fight for freedom. This year’s festivities, scheduled for Wednesday, June 12, will take place near the south entrance of the Oakland County Circuit Court building in Pontiac, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The Underground Railroad, a secret network of routes and safe houses, provided a lifeline for enslaved Black people seeking freedom. Oakland County’s recognition of this historical legacy is both a tribute and a powerful reminder of the enduring struggle for equality and justice. The Juneteenth event, open to the public and the media, will culminate in the raising of the Juneteenth flag, commemorating the official end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865.

Carol Bacak-Egbo, historian for Oakland County Parks and Recreation, will narrate the harrowing yet inspiring story of the Parker family. Escaping the shackles of slavery in Wood County, Virginia, the Parkers navigated the perilous paths of the Underground Railroad, ultimately finding refuge in Pontiac. As founding members of the Newman African Methodist Episcopal Church, their legacy is deeply woven into the fabric of the community. Although buried in unmarked graves in Oak Hill Cemetery, their story will be immortalized on a keepsake card distributed during the event.

“Juneteenth is a powerful reminder of the struggle for freedom and equality, and this year’s celebration in Oakland County will highlight the courageous efforts of the Underground Railroad, including its significant stops within our community,” stated County Executive Dave Coulter. “Together, we honor the legacy of those who sought liberty and those who aided in their journey to freedom.”…Read More Here

 

Atlanta’s Home Depot Backyard Hosts Truist Night Market: A Juneteenth Edition In Celebration Of Holiday

By: Hunter Gilmore

In celebration of Juneteenth National Independence Day, The Home Depot Backyard (HDBY) is set to host a series of vibrant events and programs under its Arts and Culture collection, provided by The Home Depot Foundation. The festivities kicked off with the highly anticipated Truist Night Market: Juneteenth Edition on June 13. 

It was an invigorating atmosphere filled with good vibes, music, and community spirit. That event will be followed by a weekend of free community programs focusing on Health and Wellness, Arts and Culture, and Inspired Learning taking place June 17 and 18. 

These sessions will be led by Black-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs, providing a range of enriching experiences. 

The Truist Night Market: Juneteenth Edition was a grand celebration of Atlanta’s rich culture and creative spirit, featuring over 30 top Black chefs, restaurateurs, and artisans from the greater Atlanta area. 

Attendees indulged in culinary delights from renowned names such as Heritage Supper Club, Harlem Chop, and Ghost Pizza, to name a few. The evening also showcased an array of Black-owned beverage brands, including Greenwood Whiskey, AVM Wine Company, and Anteel Tequila. Local favorites like Creature Comforts Brewing and Tito’s Handmade Vodka also had a presence as well…Read More Here

 

Illinois Black Hall of Fame Celebrates Juneteenth With 2024 Induction Ceremony

By: Tacuma Roeback

The Illinois Black Hall of Fame (IBHOF) will be an evening of elegance, networking, and, ultimately, a celebration where distinguished trailblazers who have made a seismic impact will deservedly receive their flowers.

This prestigious event, coinciding with the Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom, takes place at Governors State University on Saturday, June 15.

Richard Boykin, one of the event’s organizers, emphasized the significance of the IBHOF and its role in recognizing the contributions of outstanding individuals. “I think people should come out and support because this is all about us,” Boykin said. It’s about honoring people who’ve made significant achievements throughout their lives—people who blazed the trail for us to follow.”

The 2024 inductees into the IBHOF include distinguished figures such as U.S. Reps. Robin Kelly, Danny K. Davis, Brigadier General Tomika M. Seaberry, and Judge Vincent F. Cornelius. Additionally, the event will honor the Black Women of First Distinction Class of 2024, featuring Mayor Sheila Chalmers Currin, the first Black woman mayor of Matteson, Illinois, and Dr. Georgiana Simpson, the first Black woman to receive a PhD in German from the University of Chicago in 1921. Simpson will be posthumously honored. 

Boykin highlighted the importance of reflecting on these achievements and their impact on the community. “We’re standing on the shoulders of giants in Illinois,” he said. And those giants are reflected in the Illinois Black Hall of Fame.”…Read More Here 

 

Founder of KwanzaaMe: Empowering Cultural Connections Through Kwanzaa and Juneteenth

By: Amber Ogden

Lawrielle West is a dedicated content curator known for her exceptional work promoting meaningful celebrations of cultural heritage and history. She is the visionary founder and CEO of KwanzaaMe, a local entity that creates and curates content and products that honor and celebrate diverse cultural traditions. Her passion for bringing people together through commemoration and education has cemented her as a leading figure in the movement for cultural understanding and appreciation.

Soon after West began incorporating Kwanzaa traditions into her household celebrations, she noticed a need for continued acknowledgment and support for the holiday in her community. Motivated to address this void, she embarked on a mission to raise awareness about Kwanzaa and create opportunities for her community to unite and honor the holiday’s principles and traditions through her kits.

“I wanted to provide something handcrafted, something modern, updated, and engaging for people that want to connect with Kwanzaa because it’s the holiday that started in 1966, so it’s fairly new,” West said…Read More Here

Juneteenth Observances Spread From State to State – Except for These 4

By: Roz Edward 

How Geography and Politics Obstructed the Celebration of Juneteenth.

After Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order on May 24 and West Virginia Governor signed similar legislation on June 4 of 2024 making Juneteenth an official state holiday only four states don’t recognize the holiday; Hawaii, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana still have no official state celebration for the holiday.

But since news of the emancipation didn’t reach 250,000 slaves in Texas until 1865, two years and a half years after they were no longer slaves, these territories may come online to celebrate the occasion in the next couple of years since Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021.

On June 19, 1865, Texans were astonished when Gen. Gordon Granger accompanied by a contingent of Union soldiers, mostly Black rode into Galveston, TX and went plantation to plantation to announce the official end of slavery a full two and a half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and astonished Black and White citizens marked the occasion with relative enthusiasm, depending on which side of slavery and the Civil War you stood on…Read More Here 

Chicago Celebrates Juneteenth With Spectacular Events And Festivities 

By: Nicole Joseph 

On June 19, 1865, two years (and a half) after Abraham Lincoln declared enslaved people free, Texans still bound by the rules of slavery were finally set free. However, it wasn’t until Union troops reached Galveston Bay, Texas, that this information was made public to the enslaved people. 

The news came with great excitement from the enslaved but with disdain from many slave owners who viewed freedom as a blow to their businesses and what they had accomplished with free labor.

Juneteenth was first recognized as an official holiday in 1980 in Texas, given its roots there. Today, Juneteenth is a federal holiday recognized in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia. Formally known as Juneteenth National Independence Day, this celebration has united many Black people and changed how many have chosen to celebrate the special day. 

Illinois, becoming the 47th state to honor the holiday, has seen many Black people in Chicago embracing the meaning behind Juneteenth. They value the holiday and those who sacrificed to make this day possible. Freedom today is only freedom because of what others were willing to give up, knowing their sacrifice would change the trajectory of those coming behind them.

Juneteenth Illinois, “a collaboration of state, county, and local governments, community- and faith-based organizations, civic groups, the arts, and corporate sponsors, and your clearinghouse for all things Juneteenth in Illinois,” stands on the following four pillars of Juneteenth: “Equity in Education, Health, Wealth, and Justice.” The four pillars set a strong foundation of what people can stand on when celebrating June 19…Read More Here 

Downtown Pittsburgh Featured 2 Juneteenth Celebrations: An Inside Look 

Controversy has divided the Black community

By: Rob Taylor Jr. 

Let’s give it to you straight—Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey was caught between a rock and a hard place.

Continue to basically “award” longtime Pittsburgh Juneteenth promoter B. Marshall $125,000 for the 2024 celebration after the city did so for 2023, and face the onslaught of other promoters (including those who may have never put a Pittsburgh Juneteenth celebration together), politicians and other watchdogs wonder why B. Marshall was the only private organizer to get Juneteenth money from the city, or “go back on his word” according to many in Pittsburgh’s Black community, hold off on awarding B. Marshall the $125,000 for 2024, decide to start a city-owned, city-sponsored Juneteenth, put out a “Request For Proposals,” and ultimately watch the city choose someone other than B. Marshall get the contract.

Mayor Gainey chose option number two. But in a question directed to the mayor by the New Pittsburgh Courier during Mayor Gainey’s press conference announcing the city’s Juneteenth “Fusion Fest” celebration scheduled for June 29, Mayor Gainey said he had no choice but to become more transparent with taxpayer dollars when it came to whom the city would award Juneteenth funds.

“We never budget for two years, the budget was only for one year, and that was the (first) $125,000,” Mayor Gainey said. “So after the $125,000 was done, we felt that at the end of the day, we needed to be more transparent because there were always questions as you can imagine. So we had to come up with a new process, one that was more open, and in order to do that, we would have to own it (a separate Juneteenth celebration) in order to put out a RFP (Request For Proposals). So that’s where the change was made.”…Read More Here 

 

 

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