Thursday, June 28, 2018

Juneteenth in Philadelphia

Last Friday evening, commemorative wreaths honors Austin, Paris, Hercules, Christopher Sheeler, Richmond, Giles. Oney Judge, Moll, and Jon.

Before sharing the closing highlights of Juneteenth, I would love to link everyone to Chéri Yielle's Save My Soul. - a pleasant, soulful tune as humbly sweet as a mixture of maple syrup and dark chocolate. In addition to making a beautiful spirited song that calls out to the ancestral astral plane, Yielle is a vegan and shares her multifaceted artist lifestyle on Instagram. Check her out!

On a rainy Friday evening, a host of individuals from local, national, and international took the stage, red, green, and black balloons setting the mood with its symbolic color scheme. This was the third year for such an event, a commemoration of not just the freeing of African Americans from enslavement. The crowd stood right on the slave burial ground, near the slave auction block, a place that now beastly honors those nine illegal indentured prisoners of Washington's white house. In between moments of beautiful songs including the Pan African anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing." dance and theatrical performances, motivating speakers gave candid, moving accounts of how horrific the environment. We learned the importance of ATAC (Avenging the Ancestors Coalition), a local organization that fought for eight years to rectify a great wrong. On a December day, eight years ago, the mayor of Philadelphia cut the opening ribbon of the first slave memorial of its kind on federal property here in America just moments away from The Liberty Bell-- named such thanks to 19th century abolitionists.

The Philadelphia Heritage Chorale.

Among the artworks is a piece that tells the story of Oney Judge-- the successful woman who ran away before being presented as a present for Martha Washington's granddaughter. 

The Nanikha sisters gifted the audience with two beautiful serenades.

Special guest speaker, Opal Lee is the 92 year-old activist who, two years ago, walked from Fort Worth, Texas to Washington D.C., campaigning for Juneteenth to be a national holiday. In this short NPR interview, she says, "Slaves didn't free themselves. There were abolitionists and people of all persuasions that worked untiringly to have slavery abolished."

After walking down the red carpet to the joyous harmonies of the Philadelphia Chorale, Kenny Gamble and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney lead on a moment of silence for slavery's countless victims and our strength to continue onward.