Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.
Juneteenth is a day on which honor and respect is paid for the sufferings of slavery. It is a day on which we acknowledge the evils of slavery and its aftermath. On Juneteenth we talk about our history and realize because of it, there will forever be a bond between us.
On Juneteenth we come together young and old to listen, to learn and to refresh the drive to achieve. It is a day where we all take one step closer together – to better utilize the energy wasted on racism. Juneteenth is a day that we pray for peace and liberty for all.
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) hosted their annual Juneteenth Celebration today on the Green Show Stage. They describe it here on their Facebook page:
OSF’s Juneteenth celebration contains history, song, dance, monologues and poetry, all to highlight African-American artists who have been inspirational from the 19th century to the present. A wide range of OSF artists will perform. The show will include a house band and performances by Kimberley Scott, Charlie Robinson, Peter Macon, Kelvin Underwood, Kevin Kenerly, Gina Daniels, Isabell Monk O’Connor, Rodney Gardiner, Kenajuan Bentley and Alonzo Lee Moore IV, to name just a few.
Juneteenth is a truly powerful event – the OSF actors and other performers are incredible and I am delighted that we honor this day in Ashland in such a special way. I am more than a little embarrassed to say that I did not know much about Juneteenth until attending one of OSF’s Juneteenth performances several years ago. I am thankful that I am more aware now.
After today’s performance the audience was treated to a pot luck barbecue with food prepared and served by OSF employees. I wanted to contribute something to this celebration and so I baked two brownie pies. I also made a donation to the Juneteenth Fund which awards scholarships to African American students who would like to participate in OSF summer programs. If you would like to donate as well, I am sure that donations will still be accepted – just include the words “Juneteenth Fund” on your check.