By: Florinda Bryant, Programming Specialist
Summer is a time full of relaxation and sun-filled fun, as families and their youth move from Memorial Day Celebrations to Father’s Day outings and the Fourth of July cook outs. We busy bees at Theatre Action Project, are having just as much fun swinging into high gear with our summer programming at 20 different schools in and around Austin as well as prepping for camp and our Summer Pageant in the Park on June 18th. The weekend of June 18th is always a busy one for us here at TAP, but you may wonder “Where’s Ms. Flow?” Well, I am participating in a different celebration in a different location, one that happens all over Texas, Austin’s Juneteenth Celebration.
Being a Texas girl, I was raised celebrating Juneteenth with the same level of excitement and honor that some feel about the 4th of July. Some of you may wonder, “Ms. Flow, what is Juneteenth?” For those of you who aren’t from Texas or just plain old “had no idea”, here is a little history lesson on Juneteenth. Juneteenth is the celebration of the emancipation from slavery in Texas and June 19 is recognized as a state holiday, and a day for all Americans to celebrate African American freedom, history, and culture. Over the years, the African American community has had to fight to have these celebrations, (Sometimes even moving them onto private property were they would be legal). In 1930, the first Juneteenth celebration was held at Rosewood Park in East Austin. It is named the Historic East Austin for a reason.
Here is a little more history…even though Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and Lee surrendered in April 1865, it wasn’t until General Granger arrived in Galveston and issued General Order #3 Emancipation, that word started to spread across this southern state. As African Americans in Texas learned of their emancipation, they took the first steps of the journey we continue on today, the journey towards freedom and equality.
Juneteenth is a time of celebration and reflection. It is a time to celebrate with parades, cook outs, battle of the bands, praise dancing and other community events; a time to remember the ancestors, and celebrate us and our futures.
This year, Austin’s Juneteenth celebrations are from June 17-19, for more information on events visit the Juneteenth Central Texas Website. As East Austin continues to diversify, I hope everyone gets an opportunity to enjoy the celebration and commemorate an important part of history, I know I will be there! Be sure to check out TAP’s Summer Pageant in the Park that weekend too