Let freedom ring! Juneteenth celebrations look back, forward

Let freedom ring! Juneteenth celebrations look back, forward

With a massive Freedom Festival planned for Sunday, June 19, in Springdale, Juneteenth celebrations are continuing to grow in Northwest Arkansas.

“With Juneteenth becoming a national and federal holiday, there’s more support around it,” says Anthony Ball, program director of Music Moves, which hosts the annual Freedom Festival. “I think it’ll be something that continues to grow and grow as it becomes more of a tradition in Northwest Arkansas.”

Juneteenth, which is the commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, is short for June 19, the day in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take control of the state and ensure the freedom of former slaves. The date came more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. It was recognized as a federal holiday on June 17, 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law.

Also called Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day and Black Independence Day, smaller observances of June 19 have been held since 1866, growing to include celebrations of Black culture in addition to being an observance. Locally, Ball says he’s been aware of celebrations going back around 15 years.

Freedom Festival

After last year’s Freedom Festival was subdued because of covid, Music Moves was joined by Community Cohesion Project, the NWA Juneteenth Committee and Interform Fashion to put on a huge celebration of Juneteenth this year.

Montell Jordan, pastor, singer, songwriter and record producer best known for his 1995 single “This Is How We Do It,”as well as Morris Day and The Time will headline this year’s Freedom Festival from 1-9 p.m on June 19 at Shiloh Square on Emma Avenue in Springdale. Other music acts entertaining crowds at Shiloh Square include Mr. Sipp. “He’s a blues guitarist out of Mississippi. He won the International Blues Competition several years back,” Ball says. “We also have an award-winning gospel artist, Lamar Campbell. Supporting him will be a group of local gospel singers as well as local band, JukeBoxx Party Band.” He adds that JukeBoxx plays songs for all ages to enjoy.

“We’ll be highlighting several Black and minority-run businesses as well — everything from the food trucks, to the different companies and products that will be under the pavilion,” Ball explains. For kids, there will be bouncy houses and Crystal Bridges’ CB to You Mobile Art Lab. Clorox, Walmart and others will have giveaways. Former NBA and Razorback basketball player Ronnie Brewer Jr., local professional boxer Kalvin Henderson and the Rev. Stephen Ivey from St. James Missionary Baptist Church will serve as guest hosts, among many others.

“We’ll have health and wellness screenings from the Community Clinic in Springdale, too,” Ball says, adding that the wellness aspect has always been a part of the Freedom Festival but that the inclusion of such services has deeper roots in the Juneteenth tradition.

“Many of the people that were celebrating the proclamation — those are the people that didn’t have access to those resources,” Ball explains. “So we have partnered up to have those community organizations come on so they can be there screening people, leading the community so that there won’t be as much stigma around doctor’s office [visits] and stuff like that. … It’s not just about music and not just about celebration. You can come in and get resources as well.”

Ball adds that everyone — regardless of race — is invited to share in the celebration. Find out more or sign up to volunteer at www.musicmovesar.com.

Black Film Showcase

“The second annual Arkansas Black Film Showcase will host a series of short films that are directed, produced or star Arkansas talent,” says director Mike Day, owner of DAYVISION, a film company that emphasizes Black cinema. He explains that the June 16 event at Crystal Bridges will feature four short films and highlight producer Raya Clay’s documentary, “Sportscenter Presents: 2020 Heroes, History & Hope.”

“She is a [University of Arkansas] graduate, and she recently won an Emmy award for it,” Day explains. Other guests will include Corrigan Revels, who was a producer on “The Court of Messer”; Justin Stewart, who acted in “And the Winner Is”; Kaylynn Richardson, who directed “The Prize”; and Niketa Reed, producer for h.e.ART & Soul Black Artists Web Series.

While not necessarily a Juneteenth-related event, Day says that this will be a “deep dive into the African American film experience in the state of Arkansas in an effort to increase awareness, exposure and networking opportunities for Black Arkansans who are interested in film.”

“I’m hoping people will gravitate to these filmmakers and become investors, if you will, to the filmmakers’ craft,” he says. He hopes evenings like this one help to level the playing field, too.

“We have so many film festivals that are dedicated to highlighting Arkansas filmmakers, and yet only in a small percentage do you see black filmmakers. And so I’m hoping this is the start of a bigger platform that would allow Arkansas Black filmmakers to become very successful.”

For tickets and detailed information on the Black Film Showcase, visit crystalbridges.org/calendar/black-film-showcase.

Crown of Hope

The Crown of Hope Luncheon hosted by the Black Action Collective and Hair Couture will raise awareness and funds for cancer survivors as well as celebrate them. Candice Graham, who is a breast cancer survivor and owner of Hair Couture Beauty Boutique, will be the keynote speaker. Sarah Nicole, who also survived cancer, will provide music. Proceeds from the event will provide 200 wigs free of charge to Black and Latina women and children who “have lost their hair through cancer treatments or other conditions.”

For more information on Crown of Hope, visit bacnwa.org/a-crown-of-hope-luncheon.

Juneteenth Sneaker Ball

The Juneteenth Sneaker Ball begins at 8 p.m. June 18 at DoubleTree Suites by Hilton in Bentonville. Semi-formal attire is mandatory, and sneakers are optional at the event celebrating “being free-ish, being Black, and being a whole vibe!” DJ Squaby will make music for the evening. Tickets are available at Eventbrite.

‘The Dirty South’

There will also be free admission to the Crystal Bridges Museum exhibit “The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse” June 18-19. Visit crystalbridges.org for more information.


Go & Do

Freedom Festival

What: In celebration of Juneteenth, Music Moves along with Community Cohesion Project, Interform, and NWA Juneteenth Committee have partnered to create Freedom Festival that will include free food giveaways, a wellness fair, food trucks, a Black-owned business fair, games, kids’ activities and live entertainment from Montell Jordan, Morris Day and The Time and others.

When: 1-9 p.m. June 19

Where: Shiloh Square in downtown Springdale

Information: www.musicmovesar.com; facebook.com/nwajuneteenth


Juneteenth events

• Noon June 18: Crown of Hope Luncheon cancer fundraiser. Register at bacnwa.org/a-crown-of-hope-luncheon.

• 2-3 p.m. June 18: Celebrate Juneteenth at Bentonville Public Libray with historical icon and American abolitionist Harriet Tubman, portrayed by Bentonville resident Sheree Miller, who will discuss Tubman’s life. Accompanying her will be local community member Wendell Huggins who will share stories of his family’s personal experience with Juneteenth.

• 6-9 p.m. June 18: The Sound of Freedom with Genine LaTrice Perez and Ricky Wade explores the genre of Black protest music from the 1970s to the present during the Forest Concert Series at Crystal Bridges. More information at crystalbridges.org.

• 8 p.m. June 18: Juneteenth Sneaker Ball. A night of fun to celebrate Juneteenth. Register at eventbrite.com/e/juneteenth-sneaker-ball-tickets-289008731897

• 1-9 p.m. June 19: Freedom Festival featuring music by Montell Jordan and Morris Day and the Time, a health and wellness clinic, Black-owned business, food trucks and more. For more information visit: musicmovesar.com or juneteenth.uark.edu

• 5-9 p.m. June 19: Fort Smith Juneteenth Celebration with the U.S. Army Field Band Jazz Ensemble’s performance of Songs of Freedom and more live music from jazz artist Rodney Block and Fort Smith native Genine Latrice Perez at Riverfront Park, 121 Riverfront Drive. More information at fortsmith.org/fort-smith-juneteenth-celebration-2022.

• 5:30 p.m. June 19: Juneteenth Concert Celebration with Her Set Her Sound providing DJ entertainment and live performances by Amor, Baang and more, food and information on NWA Center for Sexual Assault, 704 S. Washington Ave. in Fayetteville. facebook.com/events/529310125465219.

• All weekend: Admission to “The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse” will be free at Crystal Bridges Museum of Art. Find out more at crystalbridges.org.

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