For African Americans, Juneteenth is a day to celebrate their history and freedom, and several Philadelphia organizations are marking the occasion, which is celebrated on June 19, with lectures, a Harriet Tubman reenactment, open houses and other neighborhood activities.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day when blacks in South Texas were officially told that slavery had been abolished. Texas was the last state to surrender in the Civil War and the last to hear that slaves were free. That announcement was made 2 1/2 years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.
On Thursday (June 17), from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., The Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University will host lectures by historian and founder of the collection Charles L. Blockson and by historian Dianna Cassey on exploring family histories. The lectures are free and open to the public at Sullivan Hall, 1330 W. Pollett Walk, at Temple University.
"Blockson is going to lecture on black genealogy," said Diane Turner, curator of the collection. "He's going to be talking about gathering items and researching family history in the context of researching his own family history."
Turner said Cassey will speak about her work researching her ancestors, Joseph and Amy Cassey, African American abolitionists in Philadelphia.
On Saturday (June 19) a variety of activities will be hosted on the street in the 6300 block of Germantown Avenue by the block's Business Alliance, including an actress reenacting moments from the life of abolitionist Harriet Tubman and a story hour will also be held, both at 11 a.m. Exhibits, sidewalk sales and a drumming circle will take place throughout the day. Tours will be held at Cliveden, the historic mansion at 6401 Germantown Ave. and at the Johnson House Historic Site at 6306 Germantown Ave.