Festival honors Tulsa Race Massacre, celebrates Juneteenth with multi-day event

In honor of the centennial anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, the Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a multi-day festival on the historic Greenwood Ave. in Tulsa, Okla. from June 17 to June 20.

The festival comes a few weeks after the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre and will coincide with Juneteenth.

Juneteenth — short for June 19 — marks the anniversary of the day all enslaved African Americans learned the Civil War had ended and they were finally free. While many think slaves were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, it actually took more than two years for the Emancipation Proclamation’s message to be relayed to slaves in Galston, Texas, which is what Juneteenth celebrates, and another six months before the 13th Amendment officially made slavery unconstitutional in the U.S.

The festival will also shed light on the Tulsa Race Massacre, a point in time that has largely been dismissed from American history books. During the weekend of May 31 to June 1, 1921, mobs of white people burned down what was called Black Wall Street in Tulsa and killed hundreds of Black people in the area.

The significance of the festival is to remember this history and honor the work of Black America who fought to be liberated. As the festival’s site puts it, this is “celebrating freedom as healing.”

“The goal of Juneteenth is to remind us that the work of freedom is a work we share in together for all of humanity,” the website reads. “We have been freed in order to advocate, protect and inspire others towards holistic liberation.”

The Tulsa Juneteenth Festival aims to be a safe space for anyone to come and enjoy themselves “as human, free and worthy.” The festival was created, supported and operated by the Greenwood and Tulsa community.

The event kicks off Wednesday night with a screening of Summer of Soul, the 2021 documentary that focuses on the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival.

The weekend is packed with back-to-back cultural events — from artist performances, art exhibits, food trucks and a screening of Red Tails, the 2012 movie about the Tuskegee Airmen. The festival will also offer wellness sessions on Saturday morning where there will be communal meditation and reflection. Black Health Count will also be in the area to help guests create healthier lifestyles and more sustainable habits.

The Tulsa Juneteenth Festival brings together multi-generational families in the area for a weekend of celebration, health and happiness.

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Today is for reflection, acknowledgement, education and celebration 🖤 #juneteenth #love #shoutoutot (via newyorkNico/IG)

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Notably, outside of the festival, there will be performances by World Stage Theatre Company, an all-Black theater group. The play, Black Wall Street, weaves real narratives from survivors as well as stories from current Tulsa residents about the massacre. Historical stories were pulled from a collection by Mary E. Jones Parrish — who wrote her story just weeks after the actual event in 1921 — as well as archival research from newspapers.

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