Denver’s Juneteenth celebration, featuring Slick Rick, takes place this Saturday, June 17th

On Saturday the tradition continues, beginning with the annual parade that will leave Manual High School at 11 a.m. Organizers expect 20,000 people to attend.

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Color photograph of "Big Al" Richardson Juneteenth Parade Grand Marshall riding in car, Five Points, 1994. (Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/ARL47) juneteenth; five points; archive; denver public library; denver; colorado; history;
Color photograph of “Big Al” Richardson, founder of Denver’s Juneteenth parade tradition, seen here in 1994. Richardson will be posthumously recognized this year at the event’s #DREAMBIG ceremony. (Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/ARL47)

It was two years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union army in April, 1865. Though slavery had been abolished on paper, the deep south was still under Confederate control and slavery persisted across the landscape until their army fell.

When the news made it down to Texas, former slaves had much reason to celebrate. Juneteenth, as the emancipation holiday became known, is rooted in these 19th century celebrations that centered around communal bar-b-cue pits, community service and self-improvement. The tradition continues this Saturday, beginning with the annual parade that will leave Manual High School at 11 a.m. Organizers expect 20,000 people to attend.

Color photograph of Miss Juneteenth with two young girl attendants, Five Points, 1989. (Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/ARL47) juneteenth; five points; archive; denver public library; denver; colorado; history;
Color photograph of Miss Juneteenth with two young girl attendants, Five Points, 1989. (Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/ARL47)

Here’s the schedule of events:

9 a.m. – Staging begins in the Manual High School Parking lot on 26th & Gilpin Street.

11 a.m. The parade begins. Here’s the route:

The Juneteenth parade route for June 17, 2017. (Courtesy, Denver Office of Special Events)
The Juneteenth parade route for June 17, 2017. (Courtesy, Denver Office of Special Events)

12 p.m. – Vendors open along Welton Street from Park Ave to 28th Street. Look out for the Green Zone, which seeks to “activate under-informed communities about issues which effect our global environment,” a job fair, which will feature 10-15 employers, and a youth empowerment zone, which is an opportunity for kids to learn financial literacy amid face painting and a bouncy castle.

1 p.m. The #DREAMBIG ceremony begins on stage at 26th and Welton Streets. Awards will be given in a a gala celebrating African Americans who, says executive director Norman Harris, have “set the standard for high achievement and success” in the community. Among those to be recognized are locals Brother Jeff Fard and Wilma Webb (who will be in attendance) and former locals Don Cheadle and music industry executive Jon Platt (who will not be in attendance).

1 p.m. – Juneteenth music festival begins. Slick Rick headlines the show that will also feature local artists. Slick Rick is projected to take the stage at 7:30 p.m.

10 p.m. –  The afterparty at Privé At Dorchester begins, 1448 Market Street.

Kevin Beaty

Author: Kevin Beaty

Kevin Beaty is a media producer with experience in a variety of settings spanning Hollywood film sets to international backpack journalism expeditions. He is on a never-ending quest to meld artful imagery, functional design and intimate storytelling. His biggest struggle in any given moment is whether to shoot stills or video. Find him on Twitter and Instagram at @kevinjbeaty.