Juneteenth in Memphis 

Festival celebrates our free and united society.

The U.S. celebrates its formal birthday on July 4th, but there's another independence day on the calendar. We celebrate the day a free and united society became possible on June 19th, commemorating the day in 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and announced, "All slaves are free."

Memphis' annual Juneteenth Festival has grown into a three-day event that's expected to bring more than 40,000 people to Robert Church Park this weekend for food, fun, and an opportunity to engage with history. This year's celebration gets underway Thursday night, June 13th, with an awards banquet and the performance of a new play, I Know Who I Am, at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn.

click to enlarge Ultimate Dance Showdown
  • Ultimate Dance Showdown

"We will be honoring so many great, deserving Memphians," says festival CEO and President Telisa Franklin, running down a list of pastors, artists, and entrepreneurs.

Juneteenth's Urban Music Festival kicks off at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 14th, and runs through 10 p.m. that night in Robert Church Park. "It's free admission for people to come out and enjoy arts and crafts vendors, food shops, and a kid zone," Franklin says. "There will be a car show and a walking museum where people can literally learn what Juneteenth means as well.

click to enlarge werecbox_juneteenth_2018.jpg

"This year's majorette showcase is really amazing, with teams coming all the way from Houston, Texas," Franklin says, describing Saturday's main event. Teams of majorettes, steppers, and cheerleaders will compete in Saturday's Juneteenth Ultimate Dance Showdown.

The celebration closes June 16th with Food Truck Sunday and Praise Fest, a day-long gospel concert.

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