Juneteenth parade, music festival set for Downtown this weekend
The Fourth of July is celebrated as Independence Day, but not everyone in America gained their full independence in 1776.
Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation would not be delivered for another seven years, and it did not fully abolish slavery nationwide.
On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army issued a freedom declaration as part of his general orders establishing the army’s authority over Texan citizens.
“That was the last freedom declaration that took place,” said William Marshall, CEO and founder of Stop the Violence-Pittsburgh, which will host its sixth annual Juneteenth Celebration & Black Music Fest this weekend at Point State Park in Downtown Pittsburgh (see breakout box for a full schedule of events).
“We initially started out at Stage AE on the North Side,” Marshall said. “Since then we’ve moved to the Strip District, Market Square and now, since it’s been growing, we decided to move it to Point State Park.”
The festival will feature children’s activities, live music, a justice forum at the August Wilson Center, the Stop the Violence fourth annual Celebration of Life Gala at the Heinz History Center and a parade leaving from the Hill District, heading down Centre Avenue through Downtown and on to Point State Park.
The parade marshal will be Jennifer Pinckney, one of the survivors of the 2015 mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., perpetrated by Dylann Roof. Pinckney, whose husband the Rev. Clementa Pinckney was killed in the shooting, will also be the featured speaker at two other events during the celebration.
The celebration is sponsored by the Heinz Endowment, UPMC, The POISE Foundation, The Heinz History Center, New York Life Insurance, the City of Pittsburgh and Moriarty Consultants, Inc.
Marshall said Juneteenth should not just be a celebration for black Americans.
“Juneteenth is an American celebration,” he said. “If it weren’t for American troops fighting against slavery, it might still be around, or we might have something different,” he said.
Throughout the country, people are marking the day on Twitter.
Here is a quick primer on the holiday:
— Frederick Joseph (@FredTJoseph) June 19, 2018
The U.S. Department of the Interior listed several historic sites at which to mark the day:
— US Department of the Interior (@Interior) June 19, 2018
U.S. scholar Henry Louis Gates wrote an article detailing the day’s origins:
— Kelsey Davis (@KelseyWBRC) June 19, 2018
Below, a photograph from a Juneteenth celebration 113 years ago in Virginia:
— Tamar Evangelestia-Dougherty (@evangelestia) June 19, 2018
And here is a promotional flier for this weekend’s celebration:
— Lee Stanley (@MsLeeStanley) June 12, 2018
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.