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June 5, 2024

Celebrating Juneteenth: A Day of Freedom and Reflection


Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is a pivotal holiday in American history, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. This year, Rocky Mount and Tarboro are joining the nationwide celebration with a series of events that honor the legacy of African Americans and their contributions to our nation.

A Brief History of Juneteenth

Juneteenth dates back to June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. This declaration came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, which had officially outlawed slavery in the Confederate states on January 1, 1863. The delay in the enforcement of emancipation was due to the limited presence of Union troops in Texas, a Confederate stronghold.

Upon hearing the news, celebrations erupted among the newly freed African Americans, marking the day as a significant milestone in the fight for equality and justice. Over the years, June 19th became known as "Juneteenth," a blend of "June" and "nineteenth," and it has been celebrated annually with festivities, educational events, and community gatherings.

Juneteenth has grown in prominence, symbolizing freedom, resilience, and the enduring struggle for civil rights. It was officially recognized as a federal holiday in the United States in June 2021, further cementing its importance in American culture and history.

Juneteenth Celebrations in Rocky Mount and Tarboro

This year, Rocky Mount and Tarboro have organized a variety of activities to commemorate Juneteenth. The events are designed to educate, entertain, and inspire the community, reflecting the spirit of the holiday.

Rocky Mount Schedule of Events:

Rocky Mount is holding a three day celebration in two different locations in Downtown Rocky Mount. Friday’s festivities will be located in Five Points, which is the intersection of Washington and Tarboro Streets. Saturday and Sunday’s festivities will take place on the lawn of the Helen P. Gay Rocky Mount Historic Train Station, located at 101 Coastline Street. See the schedule of events below for more information on event/performance times.

Friday – 6/14 – Five Points

  • 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM – A/B Honor Roll (Truth Tabernacle Ministries)

  • 6:00 PM – 6:30 PM – Opening & Welcome

  • 6:45 PM – 7:15 PM – Chapter Three

  • 7:45 PM – 8:15 PM – Bob Baldwin

  • 8:30 PM – 9:00 PM – Jus Once

  • 9:00 PM – 9:45 PM – Doug E. Fresh & “The Mash Out King” DJ Skillz

Saturday – 6/15 – Train Station/S. Church Street

  • 1:00 PM – 1:30 PM – Juneteenth Opening Ceremony ft. Willie Hinton

  • 2:00 PM – 2:45 PM – Kuumba West African Dance Co.

  • 3:00 PM – 3:30 PM – Zuzu Acrobats Show #1

  • 3:45 PM – 4:30 PM – Zeb Harrison & Sounds of Praise

  • 4:45 PM – 5:00 PM – Keynote Speaker (Earl Ijames)

  • 5:00 PM – 5:30 PM – Serina Pitt

  • 5:30 PM – 6:00 PM – A Majestic Celebration of Black History: Juneteenth and African Royalty presented by Your Queens, Inc.

  • 6:00 PM – 6:15 PM – John & Mary Perry Scholarship Recognition

  • 6:15 PM – 6:30 PM – Zuzu Acrobats Show #2

  • 6:45 PM – 7:45 PM – *Ray Chew & The Crew with Hometown Hero, Joe Gray, featuring Alyson Williams

Credits: Entertainment Producer – Vivian Chew for Chew Entertainment • Music Director – Ray Chew

Sunday – 6/16 – Rocky Mount Train Station

  • 1:30 PM – 1:45 PM – Opening + Welcome + Negro National Anthem

  • 1:45 PM – 2:15 PM – Wanda Barnes

  • 2:20 PM – 2:50 PM – Heavenly Voices of God & The Jr. Kingdom Dancers

  • 3:00 PM – 3:45 PM – Mother Spirit

  • 4:00 PM – 4:45 PM – Keynote Speaker (Earl Ijames)

  • 6:00 PM – 6:45 PM – George Dickens & The Gospel Disciples

  • 7:00 PM – 7:45 PM – Luther Barnes & Restoration Gospel Choir

  • 8:00 PM – 8:45 PM – Donald Lawrence & Company (Headliner)

Tarboro’s Juneteenth Celebration

Tarboro will hold its second annual Juneteenth Festival on Wednesday, June 19th from 12-8pm on Main Street in Downtown Tarboro. Enjoy a fun day of amazing food, entertainment, arts and crafts, dance, community, bounce houses, and live music! There will be performances by The Powell Boyz, Bubba Dickens, Suah African Dance Theatre, Ello, Electric Image Band, Da Smitty Band, DJ Novej, and the Performance Blend Band.

One of the highlights of this year’s festival will be the free distribution of children’s books by MOSS Kids Book Project. These books, which include board books, picture books, middle grade books, and young adult books, will focus on themes of Juneteenth, Black history, and Black joy. This initiative aims to promote literacy and provide valuable resources that reflect the significance of Juneteenth.

In addition to the book giveaway, the MOSS Kids will also feature a dedicated play area and reading nook for children. The area will be equipped with LEGOs, craft activities, and a cozy space for reading. This welcoming environment is designed to foster a love for reading and provide a fun and educational experience for children of all ages.

But, the fun doesn't end there! A standout event at the festival will be a special virtual storytime with Natasha Tripplett, the author of Juneteenth Is. This interactive session will offer children an engaging way to learn about Juneteenth through storytelling. To make this event even more memorable, signed copies of Juneteenth Is will be handed out to families, while supplies last.

All of MOSS Kids events will also be held in downtown Tarboro on Main Street.

To learn more about MOSS Kids Book Project, click here!

Rocky Mount Juneteenth Festival Information

Tarboro-Edgecombe Juneteenth Information
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