Families throughout Beverly/Morgan Park are invited to celebrate at the Juneteenth Family Festival and Black Business Crawl, Sat., June 19, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Juneteenth (short for June nineteenth), also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Considered the longest-running African American holiday, it is celebrated annually on June 19, the date in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Tex., to ensure that all people who were continuing to be enslaved be freed – 2½ years after the Emancipation Proclamation and two months following Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.
The local festivities offer a good time to reflect on history, celebrate as a community, support local businesses, learn more about health and wellness, and have some fun. First organized two years ago with the Southwest Chicago Diversity Collaborative and held at Dan Ryan Woods, the Beverly/Morgan Park Juneteenth festival was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. It is returning with great energy, and more activities.
For this year’s events, Shanya Gray and Jurema Gorham are organizing the festival, which will be held in the parking lots of Morgan Park Presbyterian Church and Morgan Park United Methodist Church at 110th Place and Longwood Drive. Additional activities will be held across Longwood in Bohn Park.
Festival activities are designed to celebrate and educate. Among the offerings are storytelling, drumming circles, live music, children’s activities and African-based art, culture and food. The Beverly Arts Center will lead West African Dance lessons for children and adults. Main stage entertainment begins at 3 p.m.
Health and wellness education will include COVID-19 vaccinations, a dental van and other services from Roseland Hospital, and fitness information, workouts and smoothie samples from Live and Believe (LAB) Nutrition.
The Juneteenth festival will also offer a “give-back” component, showcasing Black-run not-for-profit organizations that are doing good work, spreading the word about what these organizations are doing, and how to get involved and support their work.
Gray and Gorham are working with the Morgan Park Beverly Hills Business Association and 95th Street Business Association to present the Black Business Crawl supporting Black-owned small businesses in the community. A directory of the participating businesses will be available at the festival, and people are encouraged to visit and support them on Juneteenth and enjoy specials and discounts.