Hagerstown, MD

Two days of music, dance, and history planned for Hagerstown’s inaugural Juneteenth Celebration

Kate Rader

The Juneteenth flag.Nafsadh, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

On June 19th, 1865—two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation—Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Tx. with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.

Until then, the Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the Federal forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Today, Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom. This time for reflection and rejoicing includes events emphasizing education and enlightenment.

An early Emancipation Day celebration in Richmond, Virginia, 1905.VCU Libraries, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

2021 Inaugural Juneteenth Celebration—Hagerstown

This inaugural two-day event, Fri., Jun.18–Sat., Jun. 19, 2021, hosted by the Doleman Black Heritage Museum promotes unity through cultural inclusion and features two exciting days of music, dance, activities, and outreach. 

Chairwoman Alesia Parson McBean says the celebration complements the museum’s mission to educate and enlighten people about the African American experience in America. “Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery and this should be something that every city, town, and state should be acknowledging. It’s about celebrating survival. Paying homage to the ancestors who survived, of both slaves and abolitionists. This is history that affected the entire nation.”

Friday, June 18

Friday’s festivities begin at 5 pm in University Plaza, hosted by Master of Ceremonies, Darryl Green. A powerful opening to the two-day event, “Voices from the Past” will feature special guests sharing their talent and stories. 

Award-winning national Gospel recording artist Jessica Greene-Morgan will lead “Lift Every Voice” and “Strange Fruit,” followed by moving excerpts of history spanning the transatlantic slave trade, the Civil War and emancipation, and the Civil Rights movement in America.

Gospel singer Jessica Greene-Morgan performs at the 2021 Inaugural Juneteenth Celebration—HagerstownCourtesy of the 2021 Inaugural Juneteenth Celebration—Hagerstown

Be sure to bring a lawn chair and blankets. Food will be available from onsite sponsor Chris Cross Cafe.

At 5:30, Joe Jefferson hosts the Visit Hagerstown and Washington County Twilight Criterium Bike Race. Then, join DJ Anthony “Tony” Flournoy, the owner of Full Throttle Entertainment, as he hosts “socially conscious” karaoke on the plaza from 6-8 pm. A singer and entertainer with Trinidadian roots who hails from Alabama and grew up in the DMV area, his musical skills and talent reflect this diverse mix.

End the evening (8–9:30 pm) with BigChuck, who will lead a comedic ensemble that asks the question, “What if it were white people being gaining their freedom on Juneteenth?”

Saturday, June 19

Saturday’s festivities begin at 8:30 am in University Plaza, with the Asbury Methodist “Believers Unity Walk.” Join Min. Troy Gandy as he offers prayer, kicking off a walk of unity from the University Plaza Park through Downtown Hagerstown. 

Min. Gandy encourages those who participate in the interfaith walk—a tradition in Hagerstown since 2013—to bring banners, t-shirts, or other items that represent your business, faith, or organization as a way to “share who you are in fellowship so the whole community can grow. Come together, be kind to one another.”

At noon, join Mistress of Ceremonies Shakira Doleman (the great-granddaughter of Charles and Marguerite Doleman, founders of the Doleman Black Heritage Museum) for the “History Through Characters Fashion Show: Who Am I?” at University Plaza.

DJ Gifted SonCourtesy of 2021 Inaugural Juneteenth Celebration—Hagerstown

Then, grab your family and friends and join in a celebration of dance with radio DJ Gifted Son. From 2–3:30 pm join the Line Dancing Fun with international dancer Express Freedom Cook. From 3:30–5 pm, experience Afro-Fusion Dance Instruction from Kulture Shock Movement, Anastasia Akuffo-Afful, featuring a combination of traditional West African culture and Modern-day Afrobeats, Hip-Hop, and House music.

At 5 pm, Troy Gandy puts on his DJ hat, leading Gospel Sounds, followed by live music with Min. Mark Grimsley at 6:15 pm.

Be sure to stay for the main event starting at 8 pm—“The African-American Experience Through Song and Dance,” a journey through time in song and dance. Pre-eminent vocalist Daisha Watson and her 10-year-old daughter, dancer Destini Wilks join guest vocalist Candace Potts for this special production performance piece in Hagerstown.


Friday, June 18, 5–9:30 pm

Saturday, June 19, 9 am–9:30 pm

University Plaza, 50 W. Washington St. Hagerstown, Md.

Find additional information on the Facebook event page.

All activities are free and open to the public.

Masks and social distancing are required at University Plaza and the public is welcome to bring their lawn chairs or blankets.

In addition to a full schedule of events, many community nonprofit organizations including Discovery Station, Washington County Free Library, Washington County Historical Society, San Mar Treatment Foster Care, KTS Mental Health Group, Inc. Thrive Program, Washington Goes Purple, and Homewood at Williamsport will be onsite to provide outreach, hope, education, and opportunity. 

Free Covid vaccinations will be available through the Washington County Health Department adjacent to the plaza in the lobby of USMH. No pre-registration is needed.

Several roads downtown will be closed off for the bike race from 5–10 pm. 

Suggested parking options a short walk from the Plaza: City Market Lot, Potomac St. Parking Deck, Potomac St. North of Franklin St, Central Lot, and Franklin Street.

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Writer, editor, and founder of Hagerstown magazine. Graphic designer with a passion for editorial design and photography. I've been telling the exceptional stories of everyday people for more than 20 years, with a focus on the MD, PA, WV tri-state area. Join me as publisher of the collaborative www.outpost-five.com for even more creative words and images.

Hagerstown, MD

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