‘Making America great again’: Juneteenth events mark slavery’s end | St. Louis Public Radio

‘Making America great again’: Juneteenth events mark slavery’s end

Jun 15, 2018

Coffee Wright founded the St. Louis Inner City Cultural Center Enterprise 20 years ago.This photo is from the group's second annual Juneteenth parade in 2017.
Credit Derrick Phillips

St. Louis is known for its elaborate Fourth of July events, with fireworks bursting in dozens of municipalities and most famously, over the Arch.

But many St. Louisans want that kind of attention also focused on a significant day for African-Americans and the nation: Juneteenth. It commemorates a June 19, 1865, Texas order that freed all enslaved Americans, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Several local events mark the occasion. Many take place this weekend, including one organized by Tracy Johnson of south St. Louis, who said he can’t overemphasize the day’s importance.

“Besides an African-American’s birthday, that should be the next day they celebrate,” Johnson said.

‘Why not more than one Juneteenth celebration?’

Johnson is planning a Juneteenth block party Saturday afternoon in Love Bank Park on Cherokee Street. He organized a similar event, including performers, vendors and guest speakers in East St. Louis before moving earlier this year.

“I realized people in south St. Louis didn’t have a place to go celebrate Juneteenth,” Johnson said.

Other inaugural events include an art exhibition and sale at the Griot Museum of Black History and a collaboration between the Missouri History Museum and the St. Louis Inner City Cultural Center Enterprise, founded by Coffee Wright. Wright will perform a Juneteenth anthem, which she wrote, and has previously performed in other cities.

“That’s my way of making American great again,” Wright said.

Fathers and father figures will receive crowns at the Saturday gathering in Beckett Park after the Juneteenth parade as they did last year.
Credit Coffee Wright

The Juneteenth Parade her organization launched in 2016 will take place Saturday. It will begin at noon on Delmar Boulevard and Vandeventer Avenue, then head to Beckett Park in the Lewis Place neighborhood for a celebration there.

Juneteenth is a time for people of all races to celebrate, Wright said.

“We all can get together on solid ground and just appreciate, respect and network and share information and education,” she said. “And I think that's great, especially with America try to move forward.”

Wright says she applauds the growing list of celebrations marking the day.

“You have more than one Fourth of July celebration so why not more than one Juneteenth celebration?” she asked.

If you go:

Juneteenth at the Missouri History Museum

When: 4:30-8:30 p.m., Friday, June 15

Where: Missouri History Museum, Forest Park

How much: Free

Information: Missouri History Museum website

Griot Museum of Black History art exhibition and sale

When: 6-9 p.m., Friday, June 15

Where: Griot Museum of Black History, 2505 St. Louis Ave.

How much: $10. Reservations encouraged: 314-241-7057

Information: Griot website

Juneteenth Parade

When: Parade begins at noon, Saturday, June 16. Celebration in Beckett Park lasts until 6 p.m.

Where: Parade lines up at Delmar Boulevard and Vandeventer Avenue, culminates in Beckett Park, at Page Boulevard and North Taylor Avenue

How much: Free

Information: St. Louis Inner City Cultural Center Enterprise website

Follow Nancy on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL