It’s official: Juneteenth is now our 12th federal holiday, and all we can say is: It’s about time.
June 19 marks the moment when the Emancipation Proclamation became a reality for all Americans, reaching one of the last groups of enslaved Blacks at the end of the Civil War. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers under Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger strode through Galveston, Texas, proclaiming that all slaves were free (even as General Order No. 3 warned them to stay where they were and work for wages).
Even though slavery persisted in Delaware and Kentucky until Dec. 6, 1865 when the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified and in the Indian Territories that had sided with the Confederacy until 1866, Juneteenth marked a turning point, one that has always been noted by individual communities and states. Now it’s a federal holiday that will be observed today, Friday, June 18th, as Juneteenth is a Saturday this year.
With the holiday fortuitously falling on a weekend for its first official appearance, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate:
Among the exhibits on view at the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase (through June 27) is a show featuring works from “ConnectiveCollective,” an interactive, evolving project originally developed for the campus community that uses art as a medium for civic engagement and a discussion of societal issues – political disenfranchisement, judicial equity, racism, debt, food scarcity and more. As part of the nationwide commemoration of Juneteenth, or “Freedom Day,” all visitors to the museum’s gallery and all digital visitors to the @neubergermuseum social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram are invited to join the project by adding their wishes for freedom, healing, justice, listening and awakening to a growing collection of “For Freedoms” lawn signs that are on display in the exhibit. For more, visit here.
Pelham Art Center will unveil its new public art installation in Wolfs Lane Park at 1 p.m. Saturday as part of Pelham’s Juneteenth celebration. “The Conversation Sculpture” by Brooklyn artist Musa Hixson is a 9- by 6- by 6-foot steel sculpture with three seats enclosed in its frame, mimicking a blooming flower.
The artist shares this on his installation: “’The Conversation Sculpture’ is derived from my observation of how people use public space. Kids come to play. People exercise, meet to talk or walk their dogs. This sculpture is for public use, just like a park or garden. I hope the seating in the sculpture will promote dialogue, contemplation and understanding.”
Hixson created The Conversation Sculpture for its original location in Herbert von King Park in Brooklyn, after receiving the 2017 UNIQLO Park Expressions Grant. The sculpture arrives in its new location in time for Juneteenth events in the park and at The Picture House. For more, visit the art center here.
The Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon will hold its annual corporate golf outing fundraiser on Monday, June 21, at the Mount Kisco Country Club as part of a continuing celebration of Juneteenth. This year the club honors its longest serving board member, Joe Solimine Sr., and New York state’s first African-American professional sports team owners, Corey and Tamara Galloway, who own the New York Streets, an indoor football team. Following the golf outing, there will be a “Dinner by the Bite” and awards celebration at 4 p.m. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. To register to play or attend the dinner, visit the Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon website at bgcmvny.org. For more, contact Hospitality Resource Group at (914) 761-7111 or email info@HRGinc.net.
And for more on Juneteenth festivities in our area, visit https://artswestchester.org/art-matters/celebrating-juneteenth/.
– Georgette Gouveia