‘It Means Celebrating Freedom’: Communities Across Boston Celebrate 1st Juneteenth As National Holiday

BOSTON (CBS) – Saturday marks the first celebration of Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

It was on June 19, 1865, when the last enslaved people in Texas were finally told they’d been freed, some two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln outlawed slavery.

READ MORE: Connecticut Man Charged In Hit-And-Run With Tractor-Trailer That Injured Mass. State Police Lieutenant

All across the city of Boston Saturday, communities came together to celebrate Juneteenth.

“It means celebrating freedom and celebrating the people who didn’t get to make it to see freedom,” said 12-year-old Jayden.

“It makes me feel happy and very very excited that people are talking about black people,” said seven-year-old Neissa.

Adults and children celebrating Juneteenth on Saturday. (WBZ-TV)

At the Museum of Fine Arts, they gave away 4,000 free tickets for an all-day Juneteenth event. Special programs and exhibits honor the contributions of Black artists, scholars and creators to the City of Boston.

READ MORE: ‘Know The Area’: Bourne Fire Chief Issues Warning To Swimmers After Recent Rescues From Rip Currents

“Throughout the summer, try to explore where are the present in plain sight histories of African American people that contributed, not only to the local community but the world at large,” said Frederick Mann.

In Hyde Park, local and federal leaders did acknowledge the black freedoms still unfulfilled: like inequities in health care, education, and housing.

“There is still more work that we have to do in terms of closing so many of the gaps that were exposed and exacerbated due to COVID-19,” said Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey.

“The sustainable transformative work for black Americans to truly be emancipated and free is about our policies and about our budgets,” Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley.

Creative future leaders used their voices to answer that call to action and inspire..

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“I want to show these young people you can be brave, even if you’re young. You can do anything,” said 15-year-old Kalaya. “It’s you who makes it happen.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Wawa’s Welcome America Event Kicks Off With Juneteenth Celebration

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Juneteenth was celebrated across the country Saturday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. It was also the kick-off day for Wawa’s Welcome to America event in Philadelphia.

“I feel great, I really do,” Organizer Bill Johnson said.

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It’s a sentiment shared by thousands as people all across the city of brotherly love celebrate Juneteenth.

In Center City, Black Music City honored the day the last slaves learned of their freedom by giving black artists a platform to create in comfort.

“It’s a celebration of black culture, going back to Juneteenth that’s when we all free we were free to choose free to express ourselves free to create,” Johnson said.

Their ancestors’ wildest dreams, the event included artistry of all kinds including music, photographs, paintings, and more.

READ MORE: Toddler Shot Multiple Times, 2 Men Dead Following Triple Shooting In West Philadelphia: Police

“I think this event happening today on Juneteenth is just such a representation of our liberation, and when I think of our liberation as a people I think of creativity,” artist Kyra Williams said.

Over at the African American Museum and City Hall, the Wawa Welcome America event showcased an expansion of their yearly festival to include Juneteenth.

Their program explored the historical significance and ties between June 19th and July 4th.

“This is how society evolves. We gotta recognize our past in order to move forward and if we don’t acknowledge things we are not acknowledging who we are as a people and how we got to where we are right now,” Johnson said.

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Many people CBS3 spoke with Saturday say making Juneteenth a federal holiday was a start, but there’s still more work to be done.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Philadelphia celebrates Juneteenth with rally, march

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Hundreds of people celebrated Juneteenth Saturday with a rally and local march in West Philadelphia.

The organizers, Pennsylvania Juneteenth Initiative, had been fighting for the day to be recognized as a national holiday for years.

As President Biden mad that official Thursday, the Philadelphia-based group had even more reason to celebrate.

“Making Juneteenth a national holiday, it’s absolutely amazing,” said Helen Salahuddin, a co-founder of the initiative.

Sonni King, the producer of the Philadelphia Juneteenth Parade and Festival, said, “It’s scaled back, but it’s still here, and that’s what’s most important.”

Because of the pandemic, the usual parade was scaled to a march.

“It’s so important that we understand our history and celebrate our history because we have been left out and left behind for so long,” said Salahuddin.

Part of that celebration was feeding the community and putting the work of black artists on display at Malcolm X Park, which police commissioner Danielle Outlaw and her pup Morrison seemed to enjoy.

This celebration is twofold, recognizing progress and realizing there’s still a long way to go.

“There are still things we’re working on, and that’s going to come, but this is the first part of that stepping stone, and we are progressing, and that’s what I love,” said King.

After this celebration, organizers say they’re getting back to work right away. They hope to target police reform in the city.

Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

‘It’s time for a reset’: Macy Gray proposes to change American flag on Juneteenth

Celebrities are speaking out about the importance of Juneteenth. 

The celebration commemorates the day, June 19, 1865, when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas were told more than two years later that enslaved African Americans had been freed by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. 

While some have always honored Juneteenth, the Black Lives Matter protest movement against racial injustice last summer in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans sparked increased attention for the event, now a federal holiday. 

This week, both chambers of Congress passed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act and on Thursday, President Joe Biden signed the bill into law.

Here’s what stars are saying about the occasion.

Juneteenth:Biden signs Juneteenth into a holiday, officially giving federal employees the day off Friday

More:Juneteenth 2021 celebrations: What to know about the holiday

Macy Gray proposes to change American flag 

Grammy-winning singer Macy Gray suggested the stars and bars flag could use an update for Juneteenth after she said the meaning of the flag was “hijacked” after the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol.  

In an op-ed for MarketWatch, first published Thursday, Gray laid out reasons she thinks Old Glory is outdated and even proposed ways in which the flag could be updated to better represent America in 2021. 

“Like the Confederate (flag), it is tattered, dated, divisive, and incorrect. It no longer represents democracy and freedom. It no longer represents ALL of us. It’s not fair to be forced to honor it. It’s time for a new flag,” Gray wrote. 

Singer Macy Gray said on Juneteenth the American Flag needs an update to better represent the country as it is today.

The “I Try” singer wrote that the 50 stars on the current flag needs to be increased to include Washington, D.C. and U.S. territory Puerto Rico, which have been in a decade-long fight for statehood. She also suggested the flag’s stripes be changed to an off-white color because America’s purity is “broken and in pieces.”

“Sixty-two years later, in 2021, we have changed and it’s time for a reset, a transformation. One that represents all states and all of us,” she added. 

Usher attends Juneteenth bill signing at White House

Usher, who penned a moving op-ed last year about the importance of Juneteenth, was in the audience at the White House as President Biden signed the bill on Thursday, which he called an “incredible moment.”

“It’s finally official.. #Juneteenth,” Usher tweeted alongside photos of himself with Vice President Kamala Harris and activist Opal Lee.

He also took to his Instagram story to celebrate the “long overdue” moment.

“Ladies and gentlemen we did it,” Usher said. “We managed to get here.”

Several lawmakers, including Congressman Jamaal Bowman and Senator Tina Smith, tweeted photos with the “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love” singer.

Tina Knowles-Lawson says Juneteenth is a ‘very important holiday’

Tina Knowles-Lawson, who raised her famous daughters Beyoncé and Solange in Texas, said her family has always celebrated the holiday. 

“When I was a child… we always celebrated Juneteenth. It was a day that you went to the beach,” the Galveston native said. “It’s always been a very important holiday.”

Knowles-Lawson said she was “surprised” many people weren’t familiar with  Juneteenth when she moved to California in the 70s. She said she believes “a lot of history (has) kind of been hidden,” a fact she’s trying to change through her partnership with Facebook to educate people on the holiday.

“Everyone needs to know the truth. This is not the only history that’s been either overlooked, changed and rewritten,” Knowles-Lawson said.

Original story:Tina Knowles-Lawson says Beyoncé, Solange ‘always’ celebrate Juneteenth

Tia Mowry reflects on lessons she’s had to teach her kids

During Yahoo!’s hour-long special celebrating Juneteenth on Wednesday, actress Tia Mowry explained why it’s important to teach her children about race and racism.

Tia Mowry explained why it's important to teach her children about race and racism.

“I want my son or my daughter to be equipped when they go out into the world,” the “Sister, Sister” star said, adding that “knowledge is power.”

“Unfortunately I’ve experienced racism at a young age, and my son experienced hate at a young age, and so I feel that the more I equip him with knowledge… I feel better about him being able to stand up for himself.”

‘We need to wake up’:Tia Mowry-Hardrict says racial injustice brings her to tears

Kerry Washington shares ways to celebrate Juneteenth

Kerry Washington shared their excitement for the new official holiday on social media. The “Scandal” actress took to Instagram on Saturday to suggest ways to celebrate the holiday.

“It is a day of beauty and freedom and Black joy,” Washington said in an Instagram video. 

In the two minute video, Washington suggested to wear clothes that were black, red and green serve red-colored foods and drinks at Juneteenth parties, support Black-owned businesses and to listen to music made by Black artists. 

“Juneteenth is a day to celebrate Black people, celebrate our beauty our strength, our history, our wisdom, our complexity, our humanity, our magic. We are all of that and some,” Washington said. 

LeVar Burton, Lupita Nyong’o, others celebrate Juneteenth as federal holiday

Lupita Nyong’o sent a poignant message for Juneteenth on Twitter after acknowledging Opal Lee, “We owe deep respect to her unwavering commitment that is responsible for the Senate passing a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.”

The “Black Panther” actress added: “His national acknowledgment is imperative; however the real substantial change that must follow is ensuring education is introduced and safeguarded in schools on the significance of Juneteenth and Black people’s experiences in and contributions to American society.”

“Happy Juneteenth (celebrated) y’all!” LeVar Burton wrote Friday.

Music producer Metro Boomin tweeted how he plans to celebrate the holiday: “happy Juneteenth. I’ll prolly watch black panther and all 3 fridays today.” 

“Star Trek” actor George Takei used his platform to thank “the tireless advocacy of Opal Lee.”

“On June 19, 1865, enslaved Black people in TX finally learned they’d been freed 2+ years earlier by proclamation. African Americans have been commemorating this day for decades, and it’s finally a federal holiday thanks to the tireless advocacy of Opal Lee, who is 94. #Juneteenth,” Takei tweeted.

Contributing: Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

“The Digital Diaspora” Curator Diana Sinclair Talks NFTs, Afrofuturism, and Crypto

Diana Sinclair Diana Sinclair

Diana Sinclair is the 17-year-old award-winning artist, photographer, activist and now curator behind “The Digital Diaspora,” a Juneteenth art exhibition, public installation, and fundraising NFT auction celebrating the work of Black artists hailing from six different countries. Produced by Towards Utopia and Foundation, the weekend exhibition opens on June 19th at Superchief Gallery NFT and aims to spotlight Black artists working in the lucrative NFT market, while a virtual NFT auction takes place at the same time on Foundation, raising funds for GLITS—an NYC based organization providing housing and guidance for Black trans people—and Herstory Dao, a digital collective recently dedicated to the funding and preservation of creative projects by Black women and non-binary artists co-founded by Sinclair. In preparation for their curatorial debut, Sinclair spoke with Observer from their home in New Jersey, sharing their motivations and inspirations for “The Digital Diaspora.”

How did you first learn of NFTs?
I first learned of NFTs around my birthday in late February [of 2020] when my partner began making 3D artwork. There was an artist who started a Twitter thread encouraging artists to share their 3D work. I call my partner like, “add your work to the thread!” It’s so cheesy to think about now, but through that thread, my partner actually started meeting a lot of other 3D artists and within that community, NFTs were the next big thing. So my partner was just talking about it non-stop, non-stop NFTs.

At this time, I was fairly interested in getting started, but I was also pretty discouraged by the lack of other Black women and photographers on the blockchain. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to invest in minting NFTs and risk not doing well. So I was very happy to just be a part of conversations, talking with people in the crypto art community. Then Itzel Yard (aka IX SHELLS), after seeing that we’re both from Barbados and Panama, wrote to me like, “I love your work. I think it would do so well [in the crypto art market]. There aren’t enough Panamanians and Bajans and I want to see you try this.” That’s kind of how I got started on my first NFT.

Why was it important for you to curate a show centered around Black crypto-art?
It was really just about seeing this lack of equity in the NFT space.

My first NFT didn’t sell for two weeks, but I was focused on building community. Just like IX did by encouraging me, I focused my efforts on educating and bringing on more Black women into the NFT space. When I joined Foundation, I’m pretty sure that I was one of only two Black women photographers on the app–the other being my friend Lauren. So the both of us started off by hosting virtual talks during the week for Black women photographers, and soon we had over 20 women onboard the app. Eventually, an artist and then a collector reached out to me to provide support and donations to help mint NFTs and onboard Black artists. 

All I could think about was how, even though there were already so many Black people in the NFT space, putting so much work into creating Black equity, they weren’t receiving the same opportunities, visibility, or support. Often in the NFT community, people will argue that since the space is decentralized there aren’t any hierarchies or that the space isn’t white male-dominated. But who has the money to place the bids? Who’s curating the shows? Who is in charge of the platforms? 

But, through this project, we’ve actually been able to meet people in the tech industry who have been very open to helping combat the inequity I’ve encountered in the space. They helped us develop a project that was way bigger than anything we could have imagined back in March when we first started talking.

The Digital Diasporais such an accurate title to pinpoint Black diasporic creative economies that exist in relation to memes, internet culture, and art online. What communities did you have in mind upon selecting work to include in this show?
In curating this show, it was really important to us to demonstrate that we, the Black diaspora, are all connected online. Even though the exhibition is on Juneteenth, a Black American holiday, we wanted to acknowledge how Black people throughout the world have contributed to global popular culture by showcasing as wide a range of artists as possible. This global and wide variety of viewpoints came together under one theme, Afrofuturism.

We selected the people that were already in the crypto art space, and who, I especially felt, needed more visibility because they were already doing the work. Though they’re all individual artists, I wanted to bring them all under one umbrella, under “The Digital Diaspora, to help boost their visibility and careers. 

The exhibition also builds on the pioneering work of Afrofuturist writer Alondra Nelson. How has Afrofuturism shaped the curation of this in-person and digital show?
Afrofuturism fully shaped how we approach the exhibition. At first, being a new curator, I was anxious about how different the works looked as they were coming in, but through Afrofuturism, the works were able to fall under a unifying theme and futuristic aesthetics. I actually spoke with almost every artist before the show about Afrofuturism–something Nelson pushed for in online communities. We came together as creatives to discuss what it meant for us to be alive and thriving in the future; What does it mean for us to be connected to fantasy, sci-fi, and futuristic aesthetics?

Tyler Gibbons, whose work I love, created this piece for the show titled The Prince(ss) Escapes. The subject is this queer character in a dress who has blood on her hands. He creates his artworks with a story–and they have danger, they have peril and adventure, but none of that has to do with being Black. His characters are Black, but he has allowed himself to separate systemic racism from their narrative. Often, Black artists and people don’t have this privilege. 

Afrofuturism is really the radical idea that we will be alive and thriving. By separating visions of the future from the present-day implications of race, we can begin to build these worlds.

Indigenous-African guerrilla theorist and curator Neema Githere coined the term Afropresentism to describe the way that archival, documentary, and fine arts have been able to express an Afrofuturist lived reality through new media. Does “The Digital Diaspora make the future present?
Short answer: Yes

I think the fact that we’re already seeing people in the NFT space, considering the fact that there is inequity, that Black artists have not received the same level of opportunities as others in the space, is a step towards liberation, especially in new communities like this. I think that that’s why it’s so important we cultivate this kind of communal and diverse space that allows for work that transcends other people’s definition of Blackness. We have a chance to make this space more equitable.

With this project, we’re hoping to throw a rock into a pond, a very big one. Hopefully, we’ll see some major sales that will benefit the exhibiting artists and Herstory Dao’s efforts to support Black women and nonbinary people in this space. I think that this is a big step, especially if we’re able to do it right, for Black liberation.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Montgomery crowds celebrate Juneteenth despite storms

A customer used her umbrella to help one of the dozens of street vendors dump a pool of water from the tent and laughed as she jumped away from the splash. The rain-soaked crowd around her applauded as a singer finished belting a tune from under another tent at the end of the street.

Pelted with storms and with worse weather on the way, the crowds celebrating Juneteenth across Montgomery moved under the closest cover and kept on celebrating.

Alexis Smith shrugged at the storms while grabbing some food at the downtown street festival outside the Rosa Parks Museum.

“I’ve been reading recently about the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Selma-to-Montgomery March, and those people were out whether it was rain or shine,” Smith said. “What does it say about the resilience of our people if a little rain keeps us away?”

Juneteenth in Montgomery:Celebrate Juneteenth this weekend, Montgomery style

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Wanda Battle and her niece, Nylah Harris, 9, sing during a Juneteenth Celebration outside Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday, June 19, 2021.

Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It was designated a federal holiday this year, and Alabama state offices were closed in honor of Juneteenth for the first time on Friday.

An inaugural celebration at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts moved indoors but also drew a large crowd. People listened to jazz, gospel, R&B and soul acts, watched a fashion show, browsed artwork and talked to local Black artists.

“We couldn’t determine how many people would come out. We didn’t know how much to order. It turned out wonderful,” MMFA Board Chair Cathy Martin said. “… We brought it inside. We’re just making it work.

“We were really surprised it was made a national holiday right before the event.”

Guests visit vendors despite the rain during a Juneteenth Celebration outside Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday, June 19, 2021.

Montgomery artist Kevin King said he came by to support his fellow artists, and “to enjoy a day with my family.”

Souled Out Groove:Juneteenth 2021 gets a double dose of Souled Out Groove

King said he’s thankful that Juneteenth is now a holiday but that people can’t lose sight of the fact that problems remain.

“You have the critical race theory (debate) happening. You have a lot of voter suppression efforts happening,” he said. “So, yes, let’s celebrate this but let’s be vigilant in moving forward and making the progress we need to make besides just having this as a holiday.”

Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Brad Harper at bharper1@gannett.com.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Do Juneteenth Your Way in the D

Stock photo courtesy of Pexels

By: Nayanna Hollins

This week, President Joe Biden signed into law that Juneteenth is officially now a federal holiday. Juneteenth–also known as “Jubilee Day”, “Liberation Day”, and “Emancipation Day”–celebrates the enslaved people in Galveston, Texas finally being read their notice of emancipation. Abraham Lilcoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, but the message did not
reach everyone until 1865 — two years after the proclamation and two months after the end of
the Civil War.

Juneteenth marks the moment that all Black American’s knew they were free, and has been celebrated as an Independence Day ever since. Last year, Governor Gretchen Whitmer made Juneteenth an official holiday for the State of Michigan, but there were
still a small minority of states who refused to recognize it. With the passing of this law, the entire nation has a chance to learn a little more about Black history, and celebrate freedom for all.

For those in the Metro Detroit Area, here are a few events to celebrate Juneteenth:

Juneteenth Film Festival
June 11 – June 19
Emagine Theatres
To celebrate freedom, Emagine Theatres is hosting special showings of Black movies
for Juneteenth. Films like Judas and the Black Messiah and One Night in Miami… will
be shown in commemoration of Jubilee Day. See Emagine Theatre’s website for more
information.

U-M 2021 Juneteenth Symposium
June 14 – June 18
Through a partnership with Ann Arbor’s branch of the NAACP, the University of
Michigan is offering 5 days of Juneteenth celebrations. This year’s theme is“Celebrating Black Joy, Hope, and Culture” and all events will be streamed virtually
through the Rackham Graduate School’s Website.

Juneteenth Black Business Crawl
June 16 – 20
1234 Washington Blvd., Detroit,
Celebrate Juneteenth by supporting Black-Owned businesses. In addition to finding new
products to buy, the Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance will also hold a scavenger
hunt with prizes for participants. Visit the MDBBA’s social media accounts for more
information.

Juneteenth Jubilee Freedom Weekend
June 17 – 20
Charles H. Wright Museum, Detroit, MI
Detroit’s African American History Museum celebrates education, economic
independence, and engagement through online and in-person exhibits.

WCTF 2021 Juneteenth Celebration
June 18th, 8:30 AM – 1:20 PM
Join the University of Michigan’s Women of Color Task Force for a series of virtual
conferences. In addition to celebrating Juneteenth, guests will discuss how to improve
race relations and promote unity.

The Melanated Mixer
June 18th, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Detroit Shipping Company, Detroit, MI
Join the Detroit Poetry Society for a night of poetry, food, and music. There will be a
poetry workshop and spoken word performances from a plethora of talented Black
writers. Tickets are $10.

Juneteenth Family Reunion
June 19, 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Catalpa Oaks, Southfield
Get together and celebrate freedom with a fun day at the park. This event offers
vendors, food trucks, live entertainment, playground access, giveaways and more. CDC
Guidelines will be followed.

Juneteenth Mobility Stroll & Roll Celebration
June 19, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Historic City Hall Park, Dearborn
The East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority is holding a walk to celebrate the
journey to emancipation. The event is free, socially distanced, and family friendly. In
addition to the “Stroll & Roll” there will also be arts and crafts for participants of all ages.

Detroit Black Public Art Tour
June 19, 1:00 PMCharles H. Wright Museum, Detroit
View beautiful monuments and murals by Tanya Stevens and ride through Detroit to
support Black artists around the city.

Juneteenth Jubilee
June 19, 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM
5555 Conner St., Detroit
Celebrate Black joy with a family fun day and cookout. This event is outdoors and
in-person.

Juneteenth on the Blacktop
June 19, 1:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Detroit Association of Black Organizations, Detroit
Bring the entire family for this free, fun event. There will be craft making, dancing, and
live entertainment.

Juneteenth Freedom Celebration & Brake Light Clinic
June 19, 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM
8 Mile and Dequindre, Detroit
To continue preserving the freedom of Black Americans, MI Liberation is hosting a
Brake Light Clinic to install new brake lights in cars for free. Black people across the
nation are 20% more likely to be pulled over by police compared than their whitecounterparts. By fixing brake lights, this clinic offers a chance to help maintain Black
freedom by preventing potentially deadly interactions with officers

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Q&A: EuGene V. Byrd III’s Self Liberated Fine Art Exhibition was created in the spirit of Juneteenth

Self Liberated Fine Art Exhibition
Self Liberated Fine Art Exhibition

Photograph courtesy of EuGene V. Boyd III

EuGene V. Byrd III has been curating art shows for decades. Back in the 90’s he recalls his first curated show, “Step into the Byrd Nest,” and since then, he’s curated more than 20 shows throughout his career as an artist. The Wichita, Kansas, native graduated from SCAD in 2002 and went on to work as a creative director for Fortune 500 companies. It wasn’t until 2016 when he stepped out on faith and decided to fully pursue his art career.

EuGene V. Boyd III
EuGene V. Boyd III

Photograph courtesy of EuGene V. Boyd III

This year, Byrd has opened his own fine art exhibition in honor of Juneteenth—which was signed into law as a federal holiday just this week. The Self Liberated Fine Art Exhibition is on display this Saturday (June 19) and next (June 26) from 3-7 p.m. at the TCP Footlocker Gallery at 1420 Moreland Avenue Southeast, and features artwork from Byrd, Fabian Williams, Marryam Moma, George F. Baker III, Tracy Murrell, and many more. We chatted with Byrd to learn more about the exhibition and his vision. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How does your exhibition tie into Juneteenth?
The exhibit is in the spirit of Juneteenth, with Juneteenth also being called Freedom Day and Liberation Day. I focused on the liberation part. I wanted to celebrate the pressure that enslaved Blacks put on the country to free ourselves. That’s what I wanted to kind of focus on—our contributions to us being free, and the exhibit speaks to the artists and the show. The artists that are like that are set up, liberated within their careers, within their lives, and kind of on their own terms—operating outside the traditional kind of gallery system and just kind of self-liberated people.

Self Liberated Fine Art Exhibition
Self Liberated Fine Art Exhibition

Photograph courtesy of EuGene V. Boyd III

Self Liberated Fine Art Exhibition
Self Liberated Fine Art Exhibition

Photograph courtesy of EuGene V. Boyd III

Why did you decide to curate this particular show?
Well, I definitely wanted just to have an art show, period, because when the world went on pause in 2020, the art world went on pause [with it]. I was just ready to have viewers in front of the art, because I felt like I was painting a lot in 2020, but the paintings come alive when the viewers are in front of it. I know a lot of artists in the show kind of felt the same way. Also with 2020, there was just so much racial injustice going on. This is really my first time doing an all-Black exclusive artist show. I really wanted to show what we can do on our own within our own community.

You’ve been in Atlanta for a while; what changes have you seen in the art scene over the years?
The arts in general is just starting to get a little more appreciated by developers, corporations, and city municipalities. They’re starting to see the value in art. So that’s a good thing—there are a lot more opportunities for public art projects and things of that nature than when I first came to the A in ’96. I think that’s going on in Atlanta, but I also think that’s just kind of going around nationwide a little bit. People are starting to see how arts and culture can actually increase property values, and art also allows you to have healthy, uncomfortable conversations and healthy dialogue, and I think people are starting to recognize that.

Self Liberated Fine Art Exhibition
Self Liberated Fine Art Exhibition

Photograph courtesy of EuGene V. Boyd III

What are some of the struggles you faced as a Black artist in your career?
It’s a struggle as artists in general, and I think, overall, some of the same struggles we have, white artists have as well because a lot of times, people don’t fully appreciate [art]. But, when you’re a Black artist, it’s double-fold, because our establishments that are Black-operated don’t get the proper funding. It’s almost impossible to get funding as a Black gallery owner or a Black art organization without having a separatist philosophy. Usually only Black organizations get funding when they take that exclusively Black approach, which I’d never took, so I never really got funding. I didn’t want to be a separatist because I always believed that in the art community, we shouldn’t do that. The art community should be more open-minded and more open-arms to anyone.

What’s some advice that you can give to aspiring artists and curators?
I believe in studying your craft. Don’t worry about monetizing your skills, until, you know, your skills have reached a certain point in mastery. You definitely need to network. Atlanta is an open-arms city, but it’s small enough that Atlanta knows the people who actually support other people’s shows. So, if you want to get into the Atlanta art scene, you have to show up, you have to let people know who you are. Sure artists say it out loud. A lot of Atlanta organizations, especially when it comes to Black organizations, are grassroots, so, volunteer opportunities are plentiful.

What’s next for you?
Well, for years I’ve been focusing on our collective internet artists, which I will continue to do, but I’m starting to switch gears a little bit. I had to close my gallery in 2020, [so I’m] switching things around to focus on Eugene Byrd Productions and starting to be more visible myself and put my name at the forefront. Eugene Byrd Productions will be doing art advocacy, art leasing, and art consulting. I have a sponsored partnership with Maker’s Mark coming up. And just continue to push the needle, continue to give opportunities, and continue to bring arts and culture to underserved areas.

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

In New York City, A Juneteenth Event Examines The Meaning Of Freedom

The Lincoln Center campus, presently adorned in a green carpet of synthetic grass, hosts a Juneteenth experience June 19. Sachyn Mital/Lincoln Center hide caption

toggle caption

Sachyn Mital/Lincoln Center

The Lincoln Center campus, presently adorned in a green carpet of synthetic grass, hosts a Juneteenth experience June 19.

Sachyn Mital/Lincoln Center

The U.S. Congress this week established Juneteenth, a commemoration observed in communities and cities across the country for more than 150 years to mark the day slaves in Texas were informed of their freedom, as an officially recognized federal holiday. Celebrations being held all over the country on June 19 likely will assume an added sense of occasion. In one such event, happening at Lincoln Center in New York City, a starry group of Black artists will present an outdoor event that not only marks the day, but also examines the very idea of freedom itself.

Carl Hancock Rux, a poet, author, playwright, actor and musician, conceived and curated the event, called I Dream a Dream that Dreams Back at Me. He says he has complicated feelings about the holiday, traditionally celebrated with hot dogs, firecrackers and music.

“Juneteenth… it’s like these enslaved people who shouldn’t have been enslaved in the first place, and then they finally get the information that they’re free,” Rux explains. “And now, where do they go? There’s no program set up for their freedom, there are no institutions that are set up for their freedom. There’s no land, even though it’s promised, given to these people for their freedom. There’s no housing for them to go to. That is painful to me—I mean, that hurts.”

Carl Hancock Rux performing his “Asphalt” at CalArts REDCAT in Los Angeles, Calif. Scott Groller/CalArts Photography hide caption

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Scott Groller/CalArts Photography

Carl Hancock Rux performing his “Asphalt” at CalArts REDCAT in Los Angeles, Calif.

Scott Groller/CalArts Photography

Rux says he wanted to create an evening that takes the audience on a journey and asks: “How do we celebrate freedom? And how do we do more than just celebrate freedom, but actually question the notion of freedom?”

While there won’t be firecrackers or hot dogs, there will be music. Among the many artists participating in the evening is pop icon Nona Hendryx, who is not only singing, but also writing music with Vernon Reid to lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage. Hendryx will represent a welcoming spirit, standing in Lincoln Center’s reflecting pool. The water is meant to evoke Harriet Tubman, who traveled back and forth 19 times to Cambridge, Maryland, through swampy water to take slaves to freedom.

“The water is not just the water that had to be crossed to get from the south to Canada,” Hendryx says, “but the ocean that had to be crossed and survived. So, water is a very sacred thing. It’s used in baptism, it’s used in all of these things.”

Singers Marcelle Lashley and Kimberly Nichole will join Hendryx in the water for this opening blues, rock and gospel incantation. They’ll be wearing costumes made out of paper by visual artist Dianne Smith. Rux says the water and the paper are complementary natural elements and “it makes total sense that these women almost become like trees.”

Costume sketch by Dianne Smith of the gown Nona Hendryx will wear in Lincoln Center’s Juneteenth commemoration. Dianne Smith/Lincoln Center hide caption

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Dianne Smith/Lincoln Center

Costume sketch by Dianne Smith of the gown Nona Hendryx will wear in Lincoln Center’s Juneteenth commemoration.

Dianne Smith/Lincoln Center

Then, the audience will move to another location, where Rux says they’ll meet singer and performance artist Helga Davis towering above them, throwing confetti. She’ll be singing both the “Star Spangled Banner” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” – often called the Black National Anthem – and, according to Rux, “will in some ways combine them and deconstruct them, allow some words from one to bleed into the other, so that they become interchangeable in a way that makes us question whether or not freedom is everything we thought it should be.”

Davis, Rux explains, represents the promised land. “But then, once you reach the promised land,” he adds, “you have to question: Is it everything you hoped for? Is it everything you wanted? Is it everything you expected it to be? Do you have everything you need?”

The audience will then journey to its final destination, where they’ll hear a set played by artist Toshi Reagon and her band, BIGLovely, performing folk, blues and gospel songs, including some from her soon-to-be-released album, Beautiful World. Reagon says she likes to read about Juneteenth every year—and she always finds the stories relevant.

As Toni Morrison looks on, Toshi Reagon performs during an Art & Social Activism discussion on Broadway in June 2016. Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Stella Adler Studio of Acting hide caption

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Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Stella Adler Studio of Acting

As Toni Morrison looks on, Toshi Reagon performs during an Art & Social Activism discussion on Broadway in June 2016.

Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Stella Adler Studio of Acting

“I found this story about one of the things they did was teach people how to vote,” Reagon relates. “You know, they were like, ‘You’re free now. You need to know how to vote.” And I just find that ironic in this era where… a lot of politicians and a lot of states are trying to take people’s voting rights away.”

Rux felt Reagon’s activist background made her the perfect artist to end the evening. Her mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon, founded the iconic Black vocal group Sweet Honey in the Rock, and both of her parents were involved in the civil rights movement.

“Toshi Reagon represents a continuum, a conundrum,” Rux says. “She represents a great Toni Morrison quote: ‘I dream a dream that dreams back at me,’ from that book, A Mercy. She represents lineage. She represents the human will to fight, to declare, to celebrate, to be outspoken and to make sure that everybody leaves with some kind of a revival of spirit.”

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