Juneteenth Celebration Highlights African-American History, Art, Music

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Frederick Douglass Honor Society and the Academy Art Museum hosted its annual Juneteenth celebration on the front lawn of the Academy Art Museum in Easton, Maryland.

Juneteenth, one of the most important African American holidays in the country, marks the abolition of slavery. It commemorates the date – June 19, 1865 – when the slaves in Galveston, Texas first received the word of the Emancipation Proclamation, which Abraham Lincoln had issued two and one-half years earlier on January 1, 1863.

The weekend’s events kicked off on Friday night with Professor Dale Green’s lecture, “Let the Land Tell the Story,” sponsored by The Frederick Douglass Honor Society and the Academy Art Museum about the research being done on “The Hill” in Easton through a partnership between Morgan State University, Historic Easton, Inc., the Frederick Douglass Honor Society, and the University of Maryland at College Park. On Saturday, the celebration showcased African American achievements in the arts, music, and history, including honoring four local heroes from Talbot County: Grace Brooks, an 18th century entrepreneur; William Gardner, a 19th century sergeant in the U.S. Army and a “Buffalo Soldier;” Walter Black, Jr., a 20th century champion of civil rights and community leader; and Shane Fisher, a 21st century graduate and leader from St. Michaels High School.

Jazz and gospel music was provided by several local church choirs, and The Frederick Douglass High School Alumni Jazz Combo from Baltimore. There was also a performance of African dance and music by the Sankofa Dance Theatre, a nationally recognized dance troupe from Baltimore.

This year’s Celebration also included a strong focus on African American art with an exhibition by Janet Taylor Pickett and acclaimed ceramic artist Ernest Satchell. Student art from Talbot County Public Schools was also on display on the fence in front of the Museum, portraying the theme of “freedom.” Other activities included inspirational readings by young leaders and a “Knowledge Village” that showcased African-American community organizations and programs.

Support for the event came from Paris Foods Corporation, Maryland State Arts Council, and other public and private partners.

In photo: Pictured is a member of the Sankofa Dance Theatre, a nationally recognized dance troupe from Baltimore, who entertained the audience at the Juneteenth Celebration.