Saint Louis, MO

St. Louis celebrates Juneteenth

Tyrone Wallace

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ST. LOUIS, MO — Black Independence Day, famously known as Juneteenth, is celebrated every June 19 to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

One of the longest-running holiday for African American community, it was believed started one year after the Union Army from the northern part of the US informed the enslaved people in Texas of their news of emancipation in 1862.

President Abraham Lincoln issued The Emancipation Proclamation that granted freedom to more than 3.5 million enslaved African Americans on New Year’s Day in 1863.

However, news of emancipation did not reach many until years later. Formerly enslaved people chose Juneteenth – a combination of June and nineteenth – because it marks the first known collective celebration of freedom.

In the past year, Juneteenth was designated an official holiday by St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Clair County, giving employees the day off and closing public offices. Because Juneteenth falls on a Saturday in 2021, city and county offices will be closed on Friday.

The University of Missouri–St. Louis’ Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion have listed several local activities that celebrate Juneteenth this year:

  • Missouri Historical Society 2021 Juneteenth Celebration will be held throughout June with virtual and in-person activities.
  • Juneteenth Celebration at The Field House Museum will host Julius B. Anthony, President of St. Louis Black Authors of Children’s Literature, and Linda M. Nance, Founding President of The Annie Malone Historical Society.
  • Juneteenth Freedom Festival in East St. Louis, Illinois, will host a motorcade, vendors, music, kids activities, a walk of remembrance, and a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall.
  • 2021 Juneteenth Community Ride is a guided group bicycle ride with live performances from area musicians, historians, and storytellers. It will depart from Tandy Recreation Center at 4206 Kennerly Ave. at 10 a.m.
  • Juneteenth Havdalah W/ MoHo STL will be sharing poems, songs, and prayers from Black authors around the bonfire. Themes include freedom, resistance, power, strength – or whatever speaks to the themes of Juneteenth.
  • Juneteenth Community Celebration-Emerson YMCA will have vendors, music, dance, drumming, and stilt-walkers as they celebrate the theme “Breaking Barriers.”

Additional activities include:

  • Juneteenth Cookout 2021 will take place at 4 p.m. at Fairground Park in St. Louis. The event is free of charge and will include activities for kids, live music and DJs, black-owned vendors, barbecues, and educational activities.
  • Juneteenth at City Foundry STL is a free outdoor event from noon to 5 p.m. at City Foundry. The event will include educational opportunities from WePower, interactive sports experiences, food and beverage vendors, dance performances, a yoga session from The Collective STL, and a live DJ set.

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