Juneteenth today throughout the United States celebrates African American freedom while encouraging self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a national and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to the fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing. The future of Juneteenth looks very bright because the history, culture and knowledge extend beyond Texas.
In 1991, Glynn Johns Reed, a progressive leader and visionary, founded the Juneteenth Freedom & Heritage Festival and celebrated on the grounds of the historic Douglass Park in North Memphis. Each year the festival highlighted and celebrated the varied milestones of African Americans. There was a theme each year as well. ‘The Educators’, for example, were recognized one year.
Another year, “The Tuskegee Airmen,”were celebrated. That year,
the youth were privy to airplane flights. Then there was the year of
the “Black Cowboys.” That year, the youth enjoyed horseback rides.
Throughout the years there were many educational and uplifting
themes as well.
The Juneteenth Freedom & Heritage Festival was celebrated 21 years
in Douglass Park during Father’s Day weekend. Families, friends and
strangers gathered yearly in the park to relax to the soulful sounds
of music of all genres.
During Glynn’s tenure as producer,a mixture of Memphis Blues and
New Orleans Jazz was a constant source of entertainment that was
offered to the public free of charge.
In 2011,the reigns and responsibilities of the Annual Juneteenth Freedom & Heritage Festival were passed from Glynn Johns Reed to Telisa Franklin of TFC Media Group. The three-day festival is still held on Father’s Day weekend; however, in 2014, Ms. Franklin reorganized and rebranded the Juneteenth Freedom & Heritage Festival into the Juneteenth Urban Music Festival held yearly on Father’s Day weekend. Douglass Park in North Memphis continues as a community to celebrate yearly but the Juneteenth Urban Music Festival was relocated to the historic Robert R. Church Park in Downtown Memphis as an all-inclusive music festival that not only entertains the public, but also educates a nation of people about the final “Celebration of Freedom.” The knowledge of freedom is a power that allows the impossible to be possible to anyone willing to embrace understanding and togetherness.
“We the people of the United States Cherish FREEDOM!”