What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is considered an important day in history to celebrate, but also, an important day to remember. Most consider Juneteenth a “second Independence Day” because on June 19, 1865 we celebrate the freedom of enslaved African American citizens. Juneteenth is considered to be the oldest nationally celebrated holiday pertaining to the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth was first celebrated in Galveston, Texas. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was Issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865 that enslaved African American citizens in Galveston, Texas were informed by Major General Gordon Granger that all slaves are free. The word “Juneteenth” is a combination of both June and 19 to commemorate the very day in June that African Americans gained their freedom. Many individuals have celebrated Juneteenth since the 1800s, but recently, it has become a national holiday that will continue to be celebrated annually.
Why do we celebrate Juneteenth?
We celebrate Juneteenth because it is considered the first official day of freedom, and the start of a new chapter for African Americans. Many individuals come together to celebrate this special day as a time for reflection and thanksgiving with family and friends. Some people choose to take an annual trip back to Galveston, Texas, where it all started, to pay their respects, but everyone has their own way of celebrating this holiday. It wasn’t until June 17, 2021 that President Joe Biden declared Juneteenth a national holiday. By acknowledging this day as a national holiday, we are symbolizing an important period in history that has not only shaped our community but has positively influenced many African American lives in multiple ways. By celebrating and remembering, we are also dedicating this day to the history, culture, and progress of all African American individuals.
What are some ways we can celebrate Juneteenth?
There are many ways to celebrate this special day. Maybe it’s throwing parties and inviting guest speakers, hosting cookouts for your neighborhood, or just relaxing and spending time with your loved ones. Looking for something to do in High Point to commemorate this holiday? Lucky for you, there are various events pertaining to Juneteenth that are definitely worth the visit!
Last Saturday, local historian and author, Phyllis Bridges led the Oakwood Cemetery African American History Walking Tour. During this tour, attendees explored the segregated sections of the cemetery, which hearken back to a time when whites and non-whites were buried in different parts of the cemetery. It was a great kick off to the Juneteenth celebrations that will take place in High Point throughout the month.
Sunday, June 19th
Take part in the 2nd Annual Step Up, Step Out, Step In, a walk for change which will start at 1 p.m. at the Golden Doors parking lot on Brentwood Street. The walk will end at the Carl Chavis YMCA where the Y’s Renovation Project Groundbreaking Ceremony and Juneteenth Festival begins at 2 p.m., lasting until 5 p.m. This celebration is located on 2725 Granville Street, and is hosted by Uniting Black Men for Change, The City of High Point, and The Washington Street Historic Preservation Society to commemorate Juneteenth and the start of African American freedom. Enjoy various food trucks, music and 97.1 who will be onsite during the event. Bring your family and friends to celebrate and remember this important day in history.
Saturday, June 25th
On Saturday, June 25th from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m., local historian and author Glenn Chavis is hosting an Historic Walking Tour along Washington Street. In earlier times, Washington Street was considered the “Main Street” of the local African American community. Along Washington Street, various schools provided education to African Americans during a period when there was a lack of educational opportunities. Along this historic street, churches were built, and hotels began to offer hospitality catered to the community. Soon afterwards, other African American entrepreneurs and professionals (including attorneys, dentists, pharmacists and realtors) began to locate their businesses along this street, making it an important part of the fabric of the community. The Historic Walking Tour will begin at D-Up, located on 613 E. Washington Street.
While celebrating various Juneteenth activities, let the celebration continue with a delicious meal from any of our Soul and Southern Style Restaurants in High Point. Below, are a few local restaurant recommendations to help you plan your Juneteenth celebration! Once more, We invite you to check out the High Point Food Mob Facebook page for additional information, reviews, and photos of other local favorites in High Point, including:
Spiro’s Family Restaurant
Spiro’s Family Restaurant is a perfect place to bring your whole family and induldge in a delicious southern home-cooked meal. Located on 2814 South Main Street in High Point, this family owned establishment has been serving the best food for the best price since July 1995. So, head on over to Spiro’s and be treated like a member of the family! After all, their slogan is, “Where Friends Are Family.”
Becky’s & Mary’s
Becky’s & Mary’s is the perfect place to sit down, relax, and enjoy some delicious authentic Southern cooking. Located on 731 East Washington Street in High Point, Becky’s and Mary’s is a local favorite and has been around since 1973. So, bring your friends and family and induldge in some mouth-watering comfort food!
Sweet Old Bills
Take the short drive over to Sweet Old Bills (1232 N. Main St.) for a relaxing drink, appetizer, or sample their menu, which ranges from burgers and barbecue to salads and vegetable plates – perfect for family members of all ages! They even have pet-friendly outdoor seating!
If you’re looking for more of a fine dining experience, enjoy a cocktail and exquisite modern southern comfort food at Magnolia Blue from 11am-4pm for a delicious meal! Located on 1807 N Main Street in High Point, this locally owned establishment offers local favorites ranging from shrimp and grits, to pot roast or their fabulous chicken and waffles!
So, join us as a community as we remember and celebrate the change this important day represents in African American history for millions of individuals across the world and remember the words from Martin Luther King Jr. “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”