Edwin Buggage Editor-in-Chief
“We The People” Demand Freedom, Justice and Equality
In these troubled and fractured times for our city, nation, state and world, there continues to be a racial divide. The scars from slavery, Jim Crow, and continued injustice, continue to flourish in a nation that prides itself as a bastion of freedom and equality. While there have been strides towards the laudable goal of equality, this nation still struggles with the dilemma of how do we get to “We The People” meaning, all the people of this nation being treated as equal humans. We have seen what amounts to modern day-lynch mobs shoot unarmed Blacks. We have witnessed people marching in the streets because they are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Last year, the murder of George Floyd set off a firestorm of cries for justice, but in recent years, and particularly following nationwide protests over police brutality and the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black Americans, there is a renewed interest in the day that celebrates freedom. These incidents, along with so many others have awaked the consciousness of this nation and the world to the historical plight of African Americans. Today, this is the backdrop for Juneteenth 2021.
What is Juneteenth?
On June 19, 1865, about two months after the Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Va., Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended. General Granger’s announcement put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued more than two and a half years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln.
The holiday received its name by combining the month of June and the number 19. The day is also sometimes called “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.” The original celebration became an annual one, and it grew in popularity over the years with the addition of descendants, according to Juneteenth.com, which tracks celebrations. The day was celebrated by praying and bringing families together. In some celebrations on this day, men and women who had been enslaved, and their descendants, made an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston.
Today, while some celebrations take place among families in backyards where food is an integral element, some cities hold larger events, like parades and festivals.
Local Juneteenth Celebrations
New Orleans is a City with many festivals and on Saturday, June 19, 2021, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., local Attorney Juan LaFonta of Juan LaFonta & Associates, L.L.C. will hold the First Annual Juan LaFonta’s Juneteenth Celebration on the New Orleans Lakefront. The family friendly celebration will honor Black History and will include free food and snowballs, and fun for the entire family. A fireworks show will conclude the celebration beginning at 8:30 p.m.
According to LaFonta, “In our continuing role of serving our community, we are happy to celebrate Black History through an event like Juneteenth. As we continue to work toward equality and justice, let us remember those who are fighting today and those who have come before us. What better way to do this than to do what we do best… celebrate with friends and family.”
The celebration will take place on the Lakefront behind the Lakefront Arena between Franklin Avenue and the Seabrook Bridge. “I continue to be committed to serving the community and inspiring young people especially, because they are the future leaders of our City,” says LaFonta, anticipating the event.
LaFonta is not alone in his quest to make things better in the community for future generations. Angel Chung Cutco, a Louisiana native, has always been passionate about community involvement. With over a decade working with non-profits and youth mentorships, she continues to gain experience through serving on the boards of Front Yard Bikes Baton Rouge, The Asian Pacific American Society, The Faubourg St. Roch Improvement Association, Rotary Club of New Orleans, and most importantly she is a culture-bearer in her role as Queen of The Black Seminoles Black Masking Indians Tribe. Angel founded RE (ad) TREAT- a Literacy Program and “nomadic library” with the goals of connecting with all communities and building bridges of healing.
Cutno’s event is also on June 19th. She will be at BK House, 1113 Charters St., from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. She will be giving away over 100 books by and about African Americans. She will also host Freddi Williams Evans, who will serve as a guest author.
“I have been giving these events for a while now, and I felt to have a book giveaway on Juneteenth was important because we must know our history if we are to make history today. And that is by doing things that will inform, inspire and uplift our community for the better.”
There are many celebrations going on for Juneteenth. Here is a list of some of them:
Special 2021 Juneteenth Celebrations
New Orleans African American Museum’s Juneteenth Celebration
Support Black artists, farmers, and vendors at the African American Museum’s Monthly Arts Market. The market will be held on Saturday, June 19th (Juneteenth) from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. both inside the museum and outdoors on museum grounds. The event is family friendly and free to attend.
Dakar Nola’s Chef Celebration of Juneteenth
Every Tuesday in June, Dakar Nola will hold a pop-up dinner featuring a rotation of chefs in celebration of Juneteenth. The Prix-Fixe five-course tasting menu will highlight creations from some of the best chefs in the City, including Senegalese and Creole flavors. Check here for tickets and more information.
The Chase Family Foundation Juneteenth Celebration
Celebrate Juneteenth at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant. Throughout the decades, the restaurant has been a mainstay in the African American community, serving locals, tourists, and presidents all the same. The Chase Family Foundation celebrates Juneteenth with a five-course, formal, sit-down dinner, spoken word and live musical performances on Saturday, June 19th. Purchase tickets here.
A Taste of the East
Check out this inaugural pop-up event over Juneteenth weekend featuring food, music, shopping and more. Come to 9701 Lake Forest Blvd. #103 on Friday, June 18th from 4-8 p.m. and Saturday, June 19th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to join the festival and support economic development in New Orleans East.
The Juneteenth New Orleans Celebration & Market
Attend an arts market and live music event courtesy of The Juneteenth New Orleans Celebration & Market. On Juneteenth, head to Vybes Nation at 1681 Religious St. from 3-8 p.m. for a celebration hosted by Tonya Boyd-Cannon and performances from DJ Raj Smoove, DJ Captain Charles, Congo Nation with special guest Big Chief Donald Harrison, spoken word artists Nique’o, Tiffny “POETIC SHORTEE” Harris and Sporty’s Brass Band. Black-owned food and product vendors will also be in attendance. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here.
New Orleans Juneteenth Festival
Celebrate Juneteenth all weekend long at NOLA Juneteenth Festival. From June 18th-20th, a variety of events will take place, including a book reading and film screening at the Tremé Center on Friday, a free festival in Armstrong Park on Saturday and a freedom gala on Sunday. For more information, see here.
Juan LaFonta’s Juneteenth Celebration
Join local Attorney Juan LaFonta at the Lakefront for free food on Juneteenth. The event is from 5-8:30 p.m., with the first 300 people receiving free food. A fireworks show will close out the event. Head to the Lakefront behind Lakefront Arena and between Franklin Avenue and the Seabrook Bridge.
Juneteenth Blood Drive for Sickle Cell Awareness Day
Give back this Juneteenth by giving blood. Son of a Saint will team up with Ochsner Blood Bank on Juneteenth to host a blood drive from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 2541 Bayou Road. The day also happens to be World Sickle Cell Awareness Day, raising awareness for a disease that affects Black Americans at much higher rates than people of other ethnicities. Sign up to donate here.
Honoring Juneteenth at NOMA
Commemorate Juneteenth with special programming at NOMA. Participate in family-friendly art activities, experience a moving dance performance co-presented by Edward Spots and Magnolia Dance & Company, view a photographic banner created by students at New Harmony High School and delve into online programming. All events and activities are free. To reserve your free ticket for admission to NOMA and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden.