A slew of events will return to Franklin this week in celebration of Juneteenth.
Following last year’s first-ever Juneteenth festival in downtown Franklin at Public Square, the Franklin Justice and Equity Coalition will host it once again alongside a series of other events.
The African American Heritage Society of Williamson County will also hold its 18th annual Juneteenth remembrance and acknowledgment celebration at the McLemore House Museum in Franklin’s historic Hard Bargain neighborhood.
To those looking for a way to celebrate, honor and learn about the holiday in Williamson County, here’s what you need to know:
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas and ultimately freed more than 250,000 enslaved people in the state who had remained in bondage despite Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation over two years earlier.
The city of Franklin passed a resolution in May of 2021 declaring the Saturday closest to June 19 as Juneteenth, and the proclamation will be made at this weekend’s celebrations. Spring Hill, Brentwood and Nolensville also proclaimed Juneteenth as a holiday in 2021.
Franklin Justice & Equity Coalition’s week of events
The Franklin Justice and Equity Coalition, formed in 2020, is hosting five events to celebrate Juneteenth:
- June 15: Juneteenth Summit, Strong Tower Bible Church, 3 pm –6 pm
- June 17: Juneteenth Gala, Liberty Hall, Factory at Franklin, 6 pm –10:30 pm
- June 18: Juneteenth Festival at Franklin Public Square, 10 am –6 pm
- June 19: Emancipation Worship Service, Franklin United Methodist Church, 8:30 am
- June 19: “Family Reunion” Block Party, Jim Warren Park, 2 pm –6 pm
The second annual Juneteenth festival, sponsored by MARS Petcare, will host dozens of vendors, family-friendly activities and performances by musical artists.
“We’re expecting larger crowds than last year, but we’re just expecting to have a good time just like last year,” president Walter Simmons said.
The event will feature keynote speaker Dorena Williamson, the author of the children’s book “The Story of Juneteenth,” and a panel of local leaders discussing the intersection of race, community advocacy, historical preservation and faith.
Tickets for the second annual gala can be purchased for $ 100. Visit fjecwilco.org for more information on all events and sponsors.
African American Heritage Society’s tradition returns
The African American Heritage Society of Williamson County will return to its roots after a hiatus of its in-person event due to COVID-19 in 2020 and a location change due to construction last year.
This year, the organization’s Juneteenth celebration is back at its usual venue: the McLemore House Museum.
On Monday, June 20 from 11 am to 3 pm, the organization invites the public to a celebration at the historic house in remembrance of the holiday. The group’s board members are planning free tours of the newly renovated home and hope to bring back other features of Juneteenth traditions from past years.
The McLemore House was built by Harvey McLemore, a man who, once freed from enslavement, became the first to build dwellings in the Hard Bargain subdivision― Franklin’s first Black middle class neighborhood.
“What better place to have a celebration of freedom than the home built by a freeman,” African American Heritage Society President Alma McLemore said to The Tennessean.
Follow the AAHS on Facebook or visit the its website at www.aahswc.org for more details as they’re finalized.
Anika Exum is a reporter covering Williamson County at The Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY Network — Tennessee. Reach her at email@example.com, 615-347-7313 or on Twitter @aniexum.
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