Featured performer, singer/songwriter Kentavius, KJ, Jones

Featured performer vocalist Ian Young, 2014 Graduate of Easton High School

Bryan Collier, “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. cared about all Americans,” from Martin’s Big Words, 2001 Water color and collage.

Celebrating Heroes and Emancipation Day

On Saturday, June 23, the Frederick Douglass Honor Society and the Academy Art Museum hosted the Eastern Shore’s fourth annual Juneteenth Celebration in Easton. The oldest known event commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States, Juneteenth celebrates the day in 1865 when the Union soldiers, led by General Gordon Granger, sailed into Galveston Harbor, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended. General Granger publicly read a General Order No.3, which began: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

This was almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which had become ocial on January 1, 1863. As the slaves in Galveston learned they were freed, jubilant celebrations broke out all over the city and then throughout the State – thus beginning a tradition of marking freedom on June 19th or “Juneteenth.”

Juneteenth took root in many African-American communities during the late 19th century, with grass-roots celebrations highlighted by parades, joyous singing, barbecues, baseball games, rodeos, and prayer services. However, as many African-Americans migrated north, especially during the Great Depression, Juneteenth became a largely forgotten vestige of the Civil War era.

Over the past few decades, however, Juneteenth has reemerged as an important community holiday to commemorate Emancipation Day and celebrate African American achievements. e Maryland General Assembly is currently reviewing legislation to proclaim June 19 as Juneteenth National Freedom Day.

This year, Harriet Lowery of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society and Vickie Wilson of the Academy Art Museum served as co-chairs of our Talbot County event, which attracted a steady crowd throughout the day. e focus was on the arts and music. Highlights included a pottery demonstration by Ernest Satchell, professor emeritus of University of Maryland Eastern Shore; art exhibition and book signings by award-winning illustrator Bryan Collier; a “Knowledge Bank” of community organizations; a family silhouette art project; a student art exhibition; and musical performances by Asbury Celebration Choir, Christ Episcopal Church Choir; Scott’s United Methodist Church Gospel Choir and Youth Choir; Scott’s United Methodist Church Gospel Choir (under direction of Barry Foreman); baritone Ian Young; Bay Hundred Community Men’s Choir, and Kentavius Jones.

The Academy Art Museum is delighted to partner with Frederick Douglass Honor Society in presenting this annual event. e Society is dedicated to developing programs that continue the Douglass legacy of human rights, education, personal growth, and involvement of citizens.

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