Juneteenth: Its History and Celebration in the Carolinas

Jun 3, 2024 | Uncategorized

As we gear up for the celebration of Juneteenth, we have the opportunity to reflect on the past and look forward to this culturally significant and dynamic day in the Carolinas.

University City Partners will host its inaugural Juneteenth Art Fest on June 19, from 4-8 p.m., celebrating African art associated with Juneteenth. 

Artwork by Janeva Tyree ©2024

Juneteenth marks the emancipation of 4 million enslaved people, the last being freed on June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, informing the enslaved of their freedom. This holiday is the oldest celebration commemorating the end of chattel slavery in the United States.

Chattel slavery combined the economic strength of capitalism and degradation of human exploitation into an institution often referred to as America’s “original sin.” This system treated people as property, dehumanizing them and stripping away their rights and dignity. 

Juneteenth has been celebrated in various ways for many years, but it wasn’t until 2021, in the aftermath of social unrest and protests, that Juneteenth became a federal holiday.

University City Partners’ Juneteenth Art Fest highlights art and culture around the lake in University City, in keeping with the original tradition of communal celebration and engagement.

In University City, our event focuses on art with a host of local artists. Dru Billions, owner of Uptown Inde, will emcee the Juneteenth Art Fest. Performers include Ayah the Light, a healing music artist promoting truth and wellness; DEVN, a local multi-instrumentalist and R&B veteran; and many more.

Creative direction including the artwork promoting the event was provided by Janeva Tyree, who helped conceptualize the event in response to the community’s desire for artistic expression and cultural celebration.

Additional artists include:

Tracei – Emerging Florida rapper and Johnson C. Smith graduate using her voice to advocate for the voiceless.

TwinNation – Professional dancers and twins Santae and Sanwone Benjamin, who have performed on football’s biggest stage.

DJ Jason Brown – Esteemed grandson of musical legend James Brown.

Justin Ellis – Charlotte Black History featured artist using mixed media to visually narrate personal stories.

Mimi V – Local artist who released her first EP, “Transitions,” in 2023 

“Our mission is to foster an environment where diversity, creativity, and unity can flourish through art and fellowship,” said Keith Stanley, CEO of University City Partners. “We are dedicated to building a strong community and cultural footprint in University City, and events like this play a pivotal role in celebrating the diversity shown in our community here. By embracing our cultural differences, we strengthen the fabric of our community and pave the way for a more inclusive and vibrant future.”

Other celebrations around town 

Many other celebrations will highlight arts, food, and African culture. The Queen City Juneteenth Parade & Cultural Celebration will take place on June 15 at Central Piedmont Community College. This event will feature vibrant floats, music, vendors, and more. 

Juneteenth of the Carolinas began in 1997 and continues to this day. Located in the heart of Plaza Midwood, it highlights African culture through drumming, clothing, and music. 

For sponsorship information, please contact Janet Godfrey at jgodfrey@universitycitypartners.org.




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