Montgomery County’s 26th Juneteenth Celebration will be held from noon-10 p.m. at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown on Saturday, June 17. This year’s theme, “Journey to Freedom: Acknowledge, Educate, and Celebrate” will showcase tracing the African American struggle for freedom through education, art, dance, music and honoring elders.
The celebration weekend will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 16, at BlackRock when County Executive Marc Elrich leads ceremonies to honor the 2023 winners of the County’s African American Living Legends Awards. The awards honor individuals who are 75 or older and have dedicated their lives to service, advocacy and selfless acts of kindness to their community.
BlackRock Center for the Arts is located at 12901 Town Commons Dr. in Germantown.
The County Office of Human Rights and the County Executive’s African American Advisory Group are coordinating the program in partnership with the BlackRock Center for the Arts to commemorate the 158th anniversary of the events of June 19, 1865. On that day, Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 Federal troops arrived in Galveston, Tex., to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its enslaved persons. The event today is known as Juneteenth and is celebrated widely across the United States.
“Juneteenth is an important part of our nation’s history, and although the special day is just getting its proper attention in parts of the country, Montgomery County has been celebrating Juneteenth for almost three decades,” said County Executive Elrich. “This year’s event in Germantown will be bigger than ever, but one of the most significant parts will be recognizing people who have devoted their lives to serving our community through the African American Living Legends Awards. I am honored to again be able to host the program as part of the Juneteenth weekend and I encourage people to come to BlackRock to have fun—and learn.”
New this year, the festivities, designed for the entire family, will include “Trail of Knowledge” educational passport activities, experiential-based activities to learn about the Civil Rights Movement, a historical journey of African American Music and artistic entertainment and food trucks. Activities will take place both inside the arts center, on the adjacent lawn and at the Germantown Town Center Urban Park.
The musical performance will be highlighted by the Chuck Brown Band and the Voices of Classic Soul Band.
County Executive Elrich will again host the African American Living Legend Awards on June 16 to honor distinguished individuals who are living legends in Montgomery County and have helped shape the cultural heritage of the African American community. The honorees are recognized for dedicating their lives to service and excellence, with accomplishments in areas including business, health, media, sports, education, law, ministry, community organizations, medicine or politics.
“The end of slavery not only meant freedom for a people, it meant freedom for a nation,” said Office of Human Rights Director James Stowe. “However, freedom is not free and nothing is guaranteed. As long as we still see efforts at voter suppression nationwide, confrontation with law enforcement and excessive force issues for Black and Brown people, increased acts of violence and intimidation toward a number of groups, social justice crisis and a fragile democracy; the fight for true freedom continues. This is a must-attend program for every freedom-loving member of our community. Even though COVID-19 concerns have eased, we will be observing any County-required safety measures that may be in place at that time.”
Information and details about the celebration, and information on how to nominate someone for the African American Living Legends Awards, will be available on the Office of Human Rights website.
For more information, call Office of Human Rights Director Stowe at 240-888-5502.