Juneteenth in Tennessee
Signs at the 2023 Memphis Juneteenth Festival Celebration in Health Science Park in Memphis, Tennessee June 17, 2023. (Photo by Karen Pulfer Focht)
Tennesseans didn’t wait until Monday to celebrate Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the date in 1865 when enslaved Texans learned they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
In May, Gov. Bill Lee signed a law recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday, two years after President Joe Biden declared it a federal holiday.
Cities across the state celebrated the day with festivals, street parties and formal events. Memphis held a weekend-long celebration that included opening ceremonies at the National Civil Rights Museum, history lectures and a Saturday lunch featuring drag performers. In Nashville, The Equity Alliance hosted the third annual “Black on Buchanan,” a block party described as a celebration of Black joy, excellence, freedom and our fight for Black liberation.”
With both Memphis and Nashville holding mayoral elections in the coming months, politicians made the rounds to talk with prospective voters.
The action wasn’t just in big cities. As part of Pulaski’s second Juneteenth event, pastors and city leaders unveiled a statue commemorating the service of the United States Colored Troops — a contrast to the town’s history as the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan — Union Army regiments composed of African-American soldiers who fought during the Civil War.
Black on Buchanan
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