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Celebrities and lawmakers to join Juneteenth festivities in DC

FILE – People attend Juneteenth celebrations in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, on June 19, 2021. Recognition of Juneteenth, the effective end of slavery in the U.S., gained traction after the police killing of George Floyd in 2020. But after an initial burst of action, the movement to have it recognized as an official holiday in the states has largely stalled. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File)

Celebrities, athletes and lawmakers are set to join in a series of events honoring the Juneteenth national holiday in Washington, D.C. 

In a news release, the nonprofit organization Juneteenth Foundation announced its second annual Freedom Festival, a weekend celebration of the newly established national holiday hosted in the D.C. area and livestreamed online.

The four-day event will kick off on Thursday with the Juneteenth Honors awards ceremony highlighting Black excellence and the achievements within the Black community. 

The list of honorees at the Juneteenth Honors includes Vista Equity Partners CEO Robert Smith, “Power” actor and activist Omari Hardwick, rapper Doug E. Fresh and Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. 

The award show will also hand out a $20,000 college scholarships to students attending historically Black colleges and universities. 

In an interview with The Hill, Freedom Festival organizer Laquan Austion said he hopes the event in the nation’s capital can help all of America celebrate what he called “the nation’s second Independence Day.” 

“You know, we often say that Juneteenth is not a Black holiday, American holiday. It’s not just for Black folks, but it’s an American holiday, and I think that’s clear for what it’s for,” Austion told The Hill. 

“So for us this Juneteenth is incredibly important, it’s special, and I’m excited about this year, in particular, being, you know, the first year it’s a federal holiday, and making sure that people from all walks of life, all parts of the country are able to celebrate … the nation’s second Independence Day.” 

Others expected to appear at this weekend’s festivities are rappers T.I., Rick Ross and Big Sean, musicians Maxwell and Keri Hilson, former NFL quarterback Michael Vick, entertainer Terrence J., and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D).

A year ago, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday across the country. 

Juneteenth, often referred to as Jubilee or Emancipation, marked the emancipation of the last African Americans to be freed from slavery in the U.S. 

Producer Pharrell Williams’s music festival, Something in the Water, will also take place in D.C. during the Juneteenth weekend.

Tags Biden Big Sean Joyce Beatty Joyce Beatty Juneteenth Juneteenth Foundation Juneteenth Freedom Festival Maxwell Michael Vick Muriel Bowser Muriel Bowser Rick Ross Robert Smith T.I. Washington D.C. Washington D.C.
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