It’s become an annual tradition to celebrate our nation’s newest federal holiday. Ten leading Black museums and historical institutions from coast to coast have joined to form the BLKFreedom Collective, which will commemorate Juneteenth, the historic day the Emancipation Proclamation was officially enforced, ending enslavement in Texas.
For the third year, this collaboration has produced a special, virtual program to honor this great national event. The 2022 theme is “We the People,” which explores the founding document of our nation, the U.S. Constitution through the eyes of historic museums and scholars across the United States.
Tune in Sunday, June 19, at 1 p.m. ET, as PBS Books will livestream this remarkable presentation on its website and on Facebook Live. It will also be offered on BLKFreedom.org and the websites of its partner organizations, as well as by libraries and PBS affiliates across the nation, Amazon, Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
“We the People” – taken from the opening words of the preamble to the Constitution – recounts how generations of Black Americans have preserved, innovated, cultivated, created, pioneered, strived and championed the true principles of freedom so that a new generation remembers, echoes and celebrates their ancestors’ accomplishments while remaining vigilant on not only issues of inclusion, diversity and equity, but also justice as promised in the Constitution.
Each of the 10 participating museums and historical institutions contributes to the overall program, focusing on some aspect of the ideas embodied in the preamble and Constitution. In addition, a stellar lineup of respected judges from across the nation read a portion of the preamble, such as Denise Page Hood, Senior United States District Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan; Eric T. Washington, Senior Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals; and Bernice Donald, Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Cincinnati).
Juneteenth dates back to June 19, 1865, when union soldier, Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, TX, with the news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This announcement was more than two and half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Through this virtual event, participating Black institutions declare, “We the people, having significantly contributed to this country in its quest to form a more perfect union, desiring for it to fulfill its principles and values as espoused in the Constitution, despite years of enslavement, oppression and discrimination, boldly define ourselves beyond race, condition or socioeconomic background. We are a holistic community and culture with a profound legacy we carry with us today.”
The BLKFreedom Collective is a combined effort among the African American Museum of Philadelphia (PA), America’s Black Holocaust Museum (Milwaukee, WI), August Wilson African American Cultural Center (Pittsburg, PA), Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (AL), Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (Detroit, MI), Harvey Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture (Charlotte, NC), Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park (Hilton Head Island, SC), National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis, TN), National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, OH) and Northwest African American Museum (Seattle, WA).
This collaborative program explores the meaning and relevance of “freedom,” “justice” and “democracy.” The event is sponsored by PBS Books, Detroit Public TV, Amazon and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).
For more information about collaborative partners, visit blkfreedom.org.