Capital Region News
12:14 pm
Sat June 21, 2014

Albany Celebrates Juneteenth

This weekend marks the 10th Annual Albany Juneteenth Celebration. The free community event is planned for Sunday, in Washington Park.

Credit The African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region

Although the Emancipation Proclamation called for the liberation of Confederate slaves on Jan. 1, 1863, its effects weren't immediate.  Two and a half years later, the emancipation took effect—when the Union army rode into Galveston to enforce President Lincoln's executive order.

Juneteenth has been sporadically celebrated in the South as a black independence day ever since June 1865, when slaves in Texas learned of their freedom.

Linda Jackson-Chalmers is the program co-chair of the African-American Cultural Center of the Capital Region.   "Juneteenth has come to be known nationally as the ending of slavery. The historical context of Juneteenth is that it is a state holiday in Texas because it delineates the ending of slavery in Texas, which did not occur until two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Texas did not comply with the edict of the freeing of the slaves through President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. And it took two and half years for the US to intervene and provide an edict that slavery was ended across the nation."

The tradition didn't have a presence in the North states until Margaret Henningsen brought it to Milwaukee in the early 1970s. 

Albany Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin:   "You know this is a part of our history that we can't afford to forget. And it's significant for Albany in that we have to continue to find ways to bring the African-American community together but also continue to find ways to share our history with the general community, as very ethnic group should sowrk to find opportunities to share their history with the global community."

Jackson-Chalmers says Albany's Juneteenth will feature a "great group of local talent" running with a gospel theme to build upon past events including the long-standing Juneteenth celebration on Hamilton Hill in Schenectady.   "We will have community moments where Albany dignitaries will deliver messages to the audience on community empowerment and the need to work collectively together on our community issues. The entertainers are all local people with bios that are very strong in the arts."

There will be Zumba demonstrations and an African-American market. The Albany High School Gospel Choir and the East Coast Players will also perform. This year's Juneteenth in Albany will host numerous family-friendly activities as well as a trolley tour of important city sites that were part of the Underground Railroad. The event begins at 1 p.m. in Washington Park.

Activities for the whole family:

  • Juneteenth Essay & Poster Contest
  • KidZone featuring a wide variety of kids' activities
  • Storytelling & Street Theater
  • African American Arts & Cultural Market
  • Underground Railroad Tour of Albany
  • Zumba
  • Craft & food vendors
  • and much more!

Entertainment:

  • Albany High School Gospel Choir
  • East Coast Playaz
  • Barbara Howard
  • Arthur Danzy with Jerry Ford
  • Dance contest
  • Variety showcase
  • Youth talent show
  • Presentation by Too Deep Entertainment
  • ... and much more!