Juneteenth Parade and Festival
On June 19th, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger led the Union army into Galveston Texas. He carried with him the news that the Civil War was over, that the North had won, and that all of the slaves still being held were now completely free. In honor of this landmark event, Dr. Wesley Johnson Sr. held, in 1950, a celebration in San Francisco at the Texas Playhouse, located on Fillmore Street. Dr. Johnson, who owned the lounge, then led a parade with one of the city’s former mayors, Willie L. Brown Jr. The participants in the parade wore cowboy hats and rode on white horses past the homes and business along Fillmore Street, and the people of the city rejoiced with the parade’s participants in the memory of the US’s abolition of the heinous practice of enslaving other human beings.
Almost 60 years later, this celebration and parade has become known as the longest running celebration to honor the abolition of slavery. Formally christened as “Juneteenth,” the event has become one of the hallmarks of summer and attracts thousands of people to San Francisco in order to both remember the end of slavery and celebrate the rich African American heritage now living and growing in our current culture.
The founders of the Juneteenth celebration emphasize that the event is crafted for several distinct reasons:
- To raise awareness for the very real events in our country’s history that have shaped where we are today.
- To foster and encourage the self esteem and pride of our country’s youth for their place within this society.
- To link up various organizations with the larger San Francisco community.
- To provide a spotlight for African American artists and craftspeople as well as African American owned businesses operating within the Bay Area.
This year, the San Francisco Juneteenth Parade and Festival will take place on Saturday, June 16th, and will include, among many other things, a recreation of an African Uhuru village, a pavilion offering health and wellness services, vendors with locally made crafts and artworks, food, drink, and so many more things that to put them all down on paper would exhaust the supply of ink in our pens.