Arts

Atlanta History Center Celebrates Juneteenth And Honors Local Leaders

Juneteenth commemorates  the day in 1865 when slaves in Galveston, TX found out they had been freed - two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when slaves in Galveston, TX found out they had been freed - two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
Credit Courtesy of PBS

Atlanta History Center has hosted an annual Juneteenth celebration for the last 8 years, commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved Black people in America were pronounced free. This year will emphasize Juneteenth traditions specific to the city of Atlanta, with virtual online panels, tours, and exhibits. Jessica VanLanduyt and Kristian Weatherspoon of the Atlanta History Center joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to talk about the celebration’s events.

“We are committed to telling a really complete story of history,” said Weatherspoon. “That’s why you see in the programming this year, programming specifically around C.T. Vivian, who was a great case study, and those struggles through civil rights up to now, and his amazing leadership. You’ll also see specifically about the Atlanta Black Crackers, the Negro League team that played here in Atlanta for some years… And those are all really important stories to tell a really complete story of history… beyond Juneteenth, it is a goal here at the history center in general.”

“We have a driving tour of the Bush Mountain community here in Atlanta,” added Weatherspoon. “You’ll see that on our website this month with a list of… historic locations, that not only tell you where they are but give you the history of the people and the events that happened at those locations.”

An online panel discussion will take place on the life of C.T. Vivian and other civil rights heroes, as part of an Author Talk segment, featuring Al Vivian, son of C.T., Steve Fiffer, co-author of Vivian’s memoir, and Ambassador Andrew Young. “C.T. Vivian is probably one of the best examples we have of the strength in activism, the strength in leadership,” said Weatherspoon.

Another virtual exhibition explores Black citizenship in the age of Jim Crow, and the struggle of African-Americans to gain full citizen’s rights. The exhibition will feature historic artifacts, maps, and other educational materials walking guests through the years of Black struggles and triumphs between Reconstruction and World War I. “Now you have the opportunity online for that really wonderful, rich experience, especially with the Atlanta component that gives our region an understanding of the role of Atlanta during that time period,” said VanLanduyt.

Listeners can learn more at www.atlantahistorycenter.com/programs-events/public-programs/juneteenth.

 

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