Juneteenth is finally becoming more recognized as a day for celebrations and commemorations but due to the coronavirus pandemic, some of celebrations have to happen online.
It’s the oldest nationally-recognized commemoration of the official end of slavery in the United States, according to James Madison’s Montpelier. The celebration marks the last day that enslaved people learned of their freedom on June 19, 1865 in Texas.
Just this week Gov. Ralph Northam introduced a bill that makes June 19 an official state holiday, granting government employees the day off to commemorate the day.
Organizations in the area have held events in the past to commemorate the day but this year the coronavirus pandemic has caused many of those celebrations to move online.
The new grassroots organization Williamsburg Action had originally planned to host an in-person celebration for the holiday on the lawns of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.
The organization announced Wednesday on their Facebook page that the event would have to be live-streamed instead in accordance with Phase 2 reopening restrictions from Northam.
The organization said Jane Elliot, an internationally recognized anti-racism activist, would still be joining the event virtually to speak to guests.
Colonial Williamsburg is also providing a number of virtual and in-person opportunities to commemorate Juneteenth, according to the organization’s website.
At various times throughout the day guests are invited to visit the Curtis Square archaeological site where interpreters and Colonial Williamsburg’s African American Nation Builders will tell guests narratives of hope and tenacity. There will also be discussions about how archaeologists and interpreters work together to understand and share stories of African Americans.
Presentations at Curtis Square will be at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
The foundation will also have a Facebook Live event at 2 p.m. Friday where individuals from the organization will discuss and celebrate the end of slavery.
Bruton Parish Church will also be having a special commemorative Juneteenth service at 9 a.m. Friday.
To learn more, visit Colonial Williamsburg online.
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