Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. But the news did not reach those still enslaved in Texas until June 19, 1865, when Union Major General Gordon Granger stormed into Galveston to enforce the proclamation, declaring that all slaves were free. Since then, June 18 and 19 have been celebrated as the days when slavery officially ended, and Juneteenth celebrations across the country have been a time to explore and embrace African-American heritage.
Historically, Denver's Juneteenth events have been renowned for drawing huge numbers, but after attendance declined in recent years, the event has been revamped. This year's Juneteenth Music Festival, set for June 16 and 17 on Welton Street between 24th Street and 28th Street, will focus more on music, history and bridging the gap between generations.
"We want to bring back the proper attention to the holiday, as well as provide a space for people to learn about this time in history," explains Miguel Taylor, one of the organizers. "That's something we've worked very hard on for this year's festival: to stress the importance of exploring and celebrating African-American history with different generations.
"This year the main focus is music, because that's what brings people together the most," he continues. "We have the Ohio Players, which is one of the most important and successful African-American funk bands in history, playing the main stage, as well as many food and community non-profit vendors."
And both the entertainment and the history lesson are free! Find more information at www.juneteenthmusicfestival.com.
This story originally appeared in the 2012Westword
Summer Guide, which you can pick up on newsstands now. And in the meantime, you can find the completeWestwordsummer 2012 event listings here
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.