“On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War was officially over, thus marking the end of slavery in the U.S. More than a century later—on June 3, 1979—Juneteenth was designated as an official holiday in Texas, commemorating this historic day in American history.
Today, Juneteenth is a party for the masses, celebrating African American freedom, culture, and advancements. And, because the culture is rich with art, music, dance, and food, those are the staples of the celebration across the nation and here in Denver, which is hosting its eighth annual Juneteenth Festival in Five Points on June 15–16.
For as long as I can remember, my grandmother told me Juneteenth was a safe place to celebrate my people. As an African American woman, it’s one of the few festivals in Denver I see people who look like me. The location of the event is not lost on me either—Five Points’ ascendancy as the Mile High’s most historic black neighborhood makes it the ideal spot for such a festival.
Before Norman Harris took over the Denver event in 2011, Juneteenth was no more than an afterthought. But under Harris’s direction, the festival has evolved to become a cornerstone in the Mile High City’s African American community. “When I was a youth, Juneteenth was the most exciting part of the summer, so one of our high-level organizational goals is to re-establish Juneteenth into the hearts of our community,” says Harris. “We are working to improve the aesthetics this year, and we are hoping to get a wow from returning attendees.””
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Blake, Joe. 520 Magazine 14 June 2019.