Marylanders set to celebrate JuneteenthÕs rich cultural history

Local R&B artist, Charis Jones, debuts her hit single “Boo’d Up” remix at her first performance at the 13th Annual Juneteenth Celebration and Seminar at Watkins Regional Park June 16.

On Saturday, hundreds of Marylanders will join in the 13th Annual Juneteenth Celebration and Seminar at Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro.

Hosted by the Maryland-National Parks and Planning Commission (M-NPPC), last year, the rain or shine event drew an estimated 1,500, Prince Georgians enjoyed historical and fun activities on display at the Annual Juneteenth Festival at Walker Mill Regional Park in District Heights.

Jointly sponsored by the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society Inc., Prince George’s County, Maryland Chapter (AAHGS-PGCM), the Prince George’s County, historical Society and Chairman of the Prince George’s County Planning Board, the unique cultural event will feature a series of lectures, workshops, genealogy and history for all ages at the Watkins Nature Center 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Entitled “Footprints and Roots,” the rain or shine event will delight residents will learn about the history of Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, which is an official holiday recognized in more than 43 states and the District of Columbia.

Dennis Doster, Prince George’s County Black History Program manager and Co-chair of the Annual Juneteenth celebration noted, “We celebrate Black History all year long, but Junteteenth is one of two big events that we do.”

“Right now the forecast is sunny and beautiful this weekend so we’re looking forward to having a great event,” Doster said. “Visitors can expect previous and new participation featuring artwork from local artists, representative from local historical institutions, Prince Georges Cultural and African-American Museum, Baltimore’s Great Blacks in Wax Museum, National Park Service representing the Carter G. Woodson House, Frederick Douglas Home, Howard University and a wide range of several non-profits and community organizations.”

The public is encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets and immerse yourself in the cultural experience of African-American history and culture.

The festival will features food, live entertainment, vendors, art and historical exhibits, and a wide range of activities for all ages. Children will be delighted with free face painting, figuring out the Imagination Playground, metal-making activities and participating in African art projects.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. The predominantly African American holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865, announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas, and more generally the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans throughout the former Confederacy of the southern U.S.

Among the local entertainers included is the legendary, Chuck Brown Band, DuPont Brass, Spur of the Moment and Charis Jones, who just released her new remix single All Boo’d Up with indigenous DC Go-Go flavor.

A native Washingtonian, Jones, the R&B artist and local favorite, shared her view on the importance of performing live in the nation’s capitol during the Juneteenth celebration.

“Performing on Juneteenth is historic for me in several different ways,” Jones said. “Mainly because this is a festival about celebration and reflection on our freedom as African-American’s, and learning even more about our genealogy,” Jones shared.

“I just think about my inception into music and just reflecting on my path that it has taken me to get to this point,” Jones said. “I just have so many mixed emotions,” said Jones. “I just feel honored that I was considered to perform on this day.”

Mindful of her presence on stage, Jones stated “ I also love children and I know that I can impact them in a positive way by looking at someone on stage that looks like them, letting them know that they have successful paths to follow as well.”

The Juneteenth celebration will be held at Watkins Regional Park, 301 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro, Md. 20772 from noon – 5 pm.

For more information about the Juneteenth celebration visit: http://www.pgparks.com/juneteenth or call 240-364-3415.