With Juneteenth proposed as a state holiday, here’s how you can recognize the holiday locally.
After Gov. Ralph Northam announced his intent to make Juneteenth a paid state holiday, Virginians are encouraged to learn about and celebrate the day.
Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, the day when news of the Emancipation Proclamation made it to the slave-holding state of Texas. That day marked the time when all states received the news that African American slaves were free, officially marking the end of slavery in the United States.
“Juneteenth today celebrates African-American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures,” reads an explanation of the holiday on Juneteenth.com.
While state legislation needs to be passed to make Juneteenth a Virginia state holiday, you can still recognize it this Friday, June 19. We’ve rounded up some ways to mark the holiday in Alexandria. Let us know in the comments if you have other suggestions.
1. See online Juneteenth museum collections
The Alexandria Black History Museum has online collections relating to Juneteenth. One is the Carlton Funn Collection, displays aimed at teaching the importance of diversity. The other is the Parker-Gray School Collection, documenting the formerly segregated school.
2. Learn about Freedom House and Alexandria’s role in the slave trade
In March, the City of Alexandria completed the purchase of Freedom House, a key historic site in telling the story of Alexandria’s history. The building was once part of the headquarters for the largest domestic slave trading firm in the U.S. Today, it is a museum with an exhibit examining the slave trade and Alexandria’s role. Although the museum is closed due to the pandemic, you can take a virtual tour and find more information at www.alexandriava.gov/FreedomHouse.
More information about the city’s African American history is provided at www.alexandriava.gov/BlackHistory.
3. Take a tour of Alexandria’s black history
Alexandria Council Member John Taylor Chapman’s Manumission Tour Company is starting in-person tours again starting on June 19, according to Alexandria Living Magazine. The tours look at the history of enslaved and free Africans and African Americans in Alexandria.
Pedal Positive is providing a four annual black history bike tour for Juneteenth. Due to the pandemic, the tour is self-guided. The route and more information will be provided upon registration.
You can also explore various sites on your own. Visit Alexandria has a list of 10 historic sites for a driving tour.
4. Document your thoughts on racial justice protests
Protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody have occured in Alexandria and other communities. The City of Alexandria is seeking reactions, experiences and items about recent events. Whether you participated in protests, noticed a difference in the community, or have signs or other items, the city wants to hear from you. Residents can share stories here. Items are not being collected at this time, but information and photos of items can be shared for future collection.
5. Check out public art
Artist Olalekan Jeyifous’s public art exhibit “Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies” is up at Waterfront Park. The installation looks at Alexandria’s African American history with the perspective of the city’s industrial and merchant history. It will be up through November.
6. Support a Black-owned business in Alexandria
There are numerous businesses you can support any day. Visit Alexandria has put together a list of black-owned businesses located in the city.
Courtesy of Emily Leayman, Patch.com.