Music, Dance, Food Trucks at the Delaware Art Museum's Juneteenth Egungun Festival on June 19th

Janine Paris

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Image of two people in traditional garb outside of the museumDelaware Art Museum

The Delaware Art Museum will host a second annual Juneteenth event on Saturday, June 19, 2021, from 10 am – 4 pm in the Copeland Sculpture Garden and Labyrinth. The free Beyond Juneteenth: Egungun Festival, is an opportunity to not only celebrate a historic holiday, but also to look forward and build community.

The day begins with a libation followed by a Juneteenth flag raising ceremony with Baba Hamin El. Nadjah Nicole and Jea Street, Jr., will perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the Black national anthem. The festivities continue with live performances from The Sankofa African dancers, Ghetto Songbird, Hezekiah, Egungun lle Igoke, Ebony Zuudia, Stiggz Stigalo, Tonantzin Yaotecas Aztec Dancers, Egungun Oloba, Robert Muhammad and the 2020 winner of the inaugural National Miss Juneteenth Pageant, Saniya Gray. Guests can enjoy vendors and food trucks. There will be kid-friendly arts and crafts stations with Kyma, such as paper drum making and art therapy with 7God in the Labyrinth, and a drum circle.

The hosts of the event are Abundancechild, venture culturalist and Ifa priestess; Dr. G, holistic, spiritual and metaphysical life coach; and Rachelle Wilson, founder of the Make Some Intelligent Noise criminal justice and prison reform movement.

Abundancechild, founder of the event, said, “We call this ‘Beyond Juneteenth: Egungun Festival’ because it’s more than a celebration of a Black holiday. It’s a veneration and tribute to our community’s collective ancestors. We take the opportunity of a well-known tradition and build upon it to learn, connect, and be empowered, so we can acknowledge the ancestral legacy we have yet to grow into.”

She added, “Honoring our ancestors means honoring ourselves, our parents, our children, and treating people how they want to be treated. It’s showing up for each other—something our ancestors have always done. Whether you’re Moorish, or an aboriginal American or believe your ancestors came from Africa, and even if your tribe comes together to celebrate in kilts or with gyros, we need to start having an Egungun energy. We all recognize that someone got freed that day. If we come together, our ancestors will bless us together.”

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Historical paintingPhoto by the British Library on Unsplash

Juneteenth is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth; it recognizes June 19, 1865, the date that the September 1862 Emancipation Proclamation was read to the people of Galveston, Texas. This event signaled that Union troops would be enforcing the Proclamation in Texas, affecting the practical manifestation of the three-year old law. The reading ceremoniously freed people who had been enslaved or bonded in the final, most remote state that still defied the law by allowing slavery.

Community Engagement Specialist Iz Balleto, who co-organized the event, said, “What matters to us is for all people to know the purpose of Juneteenth and the meaning behind it. That is why, here at the Delaware Art Museum, we value the cultural aspect of Beyond Juneteenth.”

The Smithsonian Institution describes “Egungun,” a word from the Yoruban language, as “a visible manifestation of the spirits of departed ancestors who periodically revisit the human community for remembrance, celebration, and blessings.”

The Beyond Juneteenth: Egungun Festival is part of 155 years of celebrations that commemorate a special date, alternately known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day and Emancipation Day, and honor the people who are the Egungun of today’s Black, Indigenous and people of color.

Registration is required for the free event, as the event is expected to sell out early. Some seating is available, but guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets, as well as cash or card for food purchases. Face coverings are required inside the Delaware Art Museum for individuals aged kindergarten and up not fully vaccinated from the COVID-19 virus. Fully vaccinated guests may remove their masks indoors and out, except in crowded settings. Social distancing of three feet should be maintained between parties.

Sponsored by Abundance Child Ministries Inc, Delaware Juneteenth Organizing Movement, Ile Igoke, 302GunsDown, The Afrakan Independence Day Organizing Committee and Guerrilla Republik. This program is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

About the Delaware Art Museum

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Photo of the museumDelaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive Pre-Raphaelite collection on display outside of the United Kingdom, and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Beyond Juneteenth: Egungun Festival at the Delaware Art Museum
WHEN: Saturday, June 19, 2021, 10 am – 4 pm
WHERE: Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806
COST: Free
INFO: delart.org

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