This weekend there’s more than just Father’s Day to celebrate. In 37 states and parts of Philadelphia, including the 6300 block of Germantown Avenue, Juneteenth is the word.
“There are people that still don’t know what Juneteenth is about,” said Debbra Gary, a member of the Germantown Avenue Business Alliance. “[The celebration] is an educational event.”
The celebration, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, marks the day of June 19, 1865, when slaves in South Texas were informed of the end of slavery. It was one of the last reaches of the land to get the news.
Though Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation took effect January 1, 1862, many Confederate states made little effort to free enslaved black people. Texas resisted the order completely. On June 19, Major General Gordon Granger led Union soldiers to Galveston, Texas to declare the end of the Civil War and enforce the freedom of its slaves.
Celebrations this weekend commemorate the 146th anniversary of that act.
Saturday June 18, from 11-3 p.m., the 6300 block of Germantown Avenue will close for a free outdoor festival, hosted by the Johnson House Historic Site and the 6300 Germantown Avenue Business Alliance. A variety of businesses will open their doors, and painting and small exhibits will be on display, including one on the slave holocaust.
Other historic sites will join in. Cliveden, the historic mansion located at 6401 Germantown Avenue, will feature a local storyteller, Denise Valentine, who will talk about servants and slaves who worked in the building.
The Concord School House and Upper Burial Ground at 6309 Germantown Avenue will offer tours of the facility. The public can also catch a reenactment of Harriet Tubman and a documentary film screening of the award winning film “My Slave Sister, Myself” at the Johnson House, located at 6306 Germantown Avenue.
Temple University’s Pan-African Studies Community Education Program (PASCEP) will put on an African drumming and percussion performance, as well as an activity focused on the significance of freedom. For schedule details and a complete list of Juneteenth events and activities, visit the 6300 Germantown Avenue Business Alliance’s official website.
The public will also be able to enter a raffle. Pick up a form called a “Journey of Freedom Passport,” have it checked off at various businesses and historic sites during Juneteenth, and collect clues. The quantity of checks will determine whether the individual is eligible to enter the drawing. Businesses will donate prizes, such as gift baskets, nail salon and massage therapy packages, art from galleries, and free tours at historic sites.
Other Juneteenth celebrations outside of Germantown include: the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, which celebrates on June 19th and the Juneteenth Jam at the African American Museum in Philadelphia Saturday and Sunday.
Watch for NewsWorks coverage of the celebration at the Johnson House and the 6300 block of Germantown Avenue coming soon.