Colonial Williamsburg and Community Partners join for Juneteenth 2021

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Juneteenth is the oldest nationally-recognized commemoration of the official end of slavery in the United States. (WYDaily/Wikimedia Commons)
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally-recognized commemoration of the official end of slavery in the United States. (WYDaily/Wikimedia Commons)

WILLIAMSBURG — Colonial Williamsburg will join community partners to commemorate Juneteenth with a series of events on June 19, 2021.

Observances will start at 10 a.m. on Market Square in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic area. The keynote address will be given by Professor Robert Watson of Hampton University. This hourlong program is free and open to the public, presented in partnership with William & Mary, the Let Freedom Ring Foundation, the city and Colonial Williamsburg.

The opening ceremony will be followed at 11 a.m. with a cookout at Chowning’s Tavern on Market Square. The specially-curated menu was created by award-winning food historian and chef Michael Twitty. A portion of the proceeds from the cookout will go towards the Village Initiative for Equity in Education.

From 11:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Colonial Williamsburg’s Museum Theater Department will present special Juneteenth performances of the play, “Loquacious Lucy,” which is the story of an enslaved child who learns her friend has been sold. The performance will take place at the Play House Stage on Palace Green and is open to guests with Colonial Williamsburg admission.

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Also along Market Square, the community will present, “Remembrance: Honoring the Voices,” from 1-3 p.m. This will feature live presentations of oral history and preserve the voices of our community to support learning, growth and healing through spoken word.

At 2 p.m., William & Mary will present a special virtual Juneteenth commemoration program, which will be livestreamed. The program will include a performance of, “Evolution of a Black Girl” by actress Morgan McCoy, musical performances, and remarks by community leaders.

At 4 p.m., Colonial Williamsburg will present the dramatic program, “Joy of Morning,” in which guests are invited to gather with members of the enslaved community to experience a music-filled message of hope. This will take place at the Charlton Stage. This program is open to guests with Colonial Williamsburg admission.

Also at 4 p.m., Colonial Williamsburg will give a virtual presentation of, “CW Conversation: Juneteenth.” This is the sixth program in its series, “U.S.: Past, Present, Future.”

As part of the Virginia Arts Festival’s musical event, Williamsburg Live!, Leyla McCalla, a former member of the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, will perform at 7:30 p.m. on the lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. For additional information, visit the website for the event: Williamsburg Live!

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The program will conclude at 9 p.m. with the debut of “Honor & Reflection,” a contemplative multimedia installation at the ongoing excavation of the Historic First Baptist Church’s first permanent location on South Nassau Street. This program is free and open to the public.

“In celebrating on June 19, we want to make sure that, as a community, we all understand the true meaning on June 19, 1865 — until we are all free, none of us are free,” said Connie Matthews Harshaw of the Let Freedom Ring Foundation.

Juneteenth is an annual commemoration of when, on June 19, 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to deliver the news that the war was over and that the slaves had been emancipated. To learn more about Juneteenth, visit the official website for the commemoration: Juneteenth Worldwide Celebration.

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