HELENA — Juneteenth, a recently recognized federal holiday, will be celebrated at The Myrna Loy this Saturday in collaboration with the Montana Historical Society and the Holter Museum of Art.
“...the opportunity to celebrate our diverse culture here in Helena as well as across the United States and to really celebrate freedom as Americans,” says Juneteenth event planner and speaker at the event, J.P. Williams.
The holiday commemorates the emancipation of African Americans from slavery. The holiday stems from the day that Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to tell enslaved African Americans of their freedom through the Emancipation Proclamation and of the end of the Civil War.
While many African Americans have been celebrating Juneteenth since the 1800s, the holiday was just recognized federally in 2021.
Williams has deep Montana roots. His great great grandmother was a cook for George Armstrong Custer when Montana was just a territory. And his great great grandfather was in the cavalry. Williams says that this holiday can provide a time to reflect on the mass number of contributions African Americans have made to this country.
“The importance of celebrating Juneteenth is that we recognize the cultural value and the authentic input of African Americans to the building of this state of Montana as well as the entire United States. And it also is a model for how other cultures can be celebrated and we can have that shared experience as free Americans,” says Williams.
The celebration at The Myrna Loy will take place on Saturday, June 17th, two days before the actual holiday.
The event will feature such things as an African American history tour of Helena, a documentary entitled “Bicycle Corps: America’s Black Army on Wheels”, as well as a create-your-own art event, and a street party complete with a DJ.