The second annual Juneteenth celebration will make its return to Annapolis this weekend with a gala, parade and live entertainment.
The event is a collaboration between the city of Annapolis and the Annapolis Juneteenth Planning Committee. In 2021, 7,000 people attended the parade and festival, said Phyllis “Tee” Adams, founder of the Juneteenth committee, and organizers are hoping for more attendees in year two.
“We aren’t sure if this year will as big as last year when everyone was just happy to be finally out of the house,” Adams said, a reference to months of isolation because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We hope so though.”
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, marking the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas learned they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier.
Also known as the second Independence Day and Emancipation Day, Juneteenth became a federally recognized holiday last year. Annapolis and Anne Arundel County also recognize the day. It will be observed on Monday.
After learning of the holiday late in life, Adams hopes to continue the annual celebration that honors the rich history and memory of enslaved stolen Africans while deepening community knowledge of Juneteenth and the African American experience.
The festivities will kick off Friday with a VIP reception and gala to be held from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza hotel at 173 Jennifer Road. Community members, event sponsors and elected officials are invited to evening of food, live entertainment and dancing. There also will be a community unsung hero awards ceremony.
On Saturday, the Juneteenth parade will step off at the Annapolis City Dock at noon and end at the Bates Athletic Complex. The parade will feature community-based civic organizations, marching bands, dance squads and floats.
After the parade, the Emancipation Proclamation will be read ahead of the start of the music festival. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, declaring “that all persons held as slaves” within the Confederacy “are, and henceforward shall be free.”
The musical performers are both local and national acts singing gospel and R&B including the Avery Sunshine Band, the Chuck Brown Band and the Juneteenth Choir.
“I’m most excited for the performances,” Adams said. “We didn’t have funding last year so I’m happy that we were able to get some this year and bring in some entertainment that people can enjoy.”
Thanks to donations from local benefactors, the committee raised about 75% of the $250,000 needed to put on the event.
The free festival will celebrate the African American experience through history, music, culture and the arts with an emphasis on the rich musical heritage of Africans.
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“I’ll be walking to the event,” said Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley during a special City Council meeting. “I’m inviting city staff and City Council to join us.”
There is no public parking at either Maryland Hall or Bates Middle School during the event. Guests are advised to park at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for $5.
Shuttles from Taylor Avenue to the end of the parade route will be running all day for no charge.
The festival will be capped off with a fireworks show at about 9:30 p.m.
All donations are accepted and run through Dreamers Making a Difference. Annapolis Juneteenth is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that seeks funding throughout the year in order to continually and successfully execute events associated with Juneteenth and other projects. To make a contribution or for more information about the event visit www.theannapolisjuneteenth.org or visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AnnapolisJuneteenth/.