Friday is Juneteenth, the 155th anniversary of the day word of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation reached enslaved people in Texas. And because of the ongoing protests of police brutality and racial injustice, participation in the 2020 commemorations could be like none other in living memory.
At this writing we know of only one organized gathering in our neighborhood – a vigil at Wilson High School to draw attention to a campaign to change the school’s name. (More on that below.) But we know that in neighborhoods and apartment buildings around the District, people are organizing actions to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement and solidarity with one another. In Petworth, a group of neighbors organized the Juneteenth Front Yard Festival for Justice:
Our block will be socially distanced but cooking out on our front lawns, listening to music, dancing, conversing, making lawn signs, and potentially marching on our sidewalks to affirm that Black Lives Matter.
Others plan to continue their nightly candlelight vigils. And anyone can participate in cacerolazo protests. Popularized in Latin America, this form of protest involves grabbing pots and pans, going out onto porches and balconies, and making some noise at an appointed time.
A Juneteenth event you can join is at Wilson High. Students, alumni and neighbors will be gathering from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for a masked and socially distanced rally organized by the DC History and Justice Collaborative. The group has been lobbying to rename the school because its namesake, President Woodrow Wilson, was a segregationist who promoted Jim Crow policies. Its petition has collected more than 3,000 names. And this rally will promote the two-year effort to change the school’s name and “illustrate that Black Lives Matter – even
in the naming of a school.”
Attendees will be invited to use provided poster board, poster stands and markers to write down and display alternative names for the school. Or, create and bring your own poster. Organizers are also providing hand sanitizer.
If you are inspired to organize a socially distanced commemoration or know of more in the neighborhood, please leave a comment below.