By Krista Pfunder
The City of Annapolis will hold a festival to commemorate Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in the U.S., June 18–19.
Annapolis was a central location in the history of slavery, as a prime port for the slave trade. The city announced this week that it will acknowledge the turning point in that history with an evening reception, followed by a parade and festival.
The event will begin at the Maryland Cultural and Conference Center (MC3) in Annapolis with a VIP reception at 6pm, Friday, June 18, featuring live entertainment, catered food, awards and African-American art.
Saturday, June 19, a parade will start at Annapolis City Dock at noon, if COVID-19 restrictions allow. The celebration will then move to the Bates Athletic Complex, where a festival will continue from 2pm until dusk. Live musical performances include The Chuck Brown Band, Young Dylan from Tyler Perry’s Nickelodeon show, and others. Local vendors, food and art will be on site.
“The vision for a Juneteenth festival here in Annapolis, came to me in a dream,” says Phyllis “Tee” Adams, executive director and visionary of the Annapolis Juneteenth Celebration organization. “Since that moment my team and this community have been working tirelessly to make it a reality.”
The Annapolis Juneteenth Celebration was unanimously approved by the City of Annapolis in Resolution 51-20, which was proposed by Mayor Gavin Buckley and Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson. The Maryland House has since passed a bill to make Juneteenth a paid state holiday.
Last year, as CBM Bay Weekly reported, Juneteenth was marked in downtown Annapolis with a march for racial justice and equality in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, and Anne Arundel County Police Chief Tim Altomare marched along with the community. It was the first time the county formally recognized Juneteenth. This year’s event builds upon that march.
“I am stoked for this Juneteenth event because it is something that the Annapolis community truly needs,” says Harold “Mo” Lloyd, Anne Arundel County NAACP Youth and College Division President. “Black history and Black communities are inextricable, and Juneteenth is a holiday that connects the two together by honoring our ancestors’ resilience and strength through a communal celebration.”
Organizers say the festival will be in compliance with Maryland COVID-19 guidelines, with an option for online streaming. For details: www.annapolisjuneteenth.org.