Celebrities, athletes and lawmakers will attend a series of events in honor of the June 16 National Day in Washington, DC
In a press release, the non-profit Juneteenth Foundation announced its second annual Freedom Festival, a weekend celebration of the newly established National Day to be hosted in the DC area and streamed online.
The four-day event kicks off Thursday with the Juneteenth Honors awards ceremony, which celebrates Black excellence and achievements within the Black community.
The list of Juneteenth Honors recipients includes Vista Equity Partners CEO Robert Smith, “Power” actor and activist Omari Hardwick, rapper Doug E. Fresh and Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The awards show also awards $20,000 in college scholarships to students attending historically black colleges and universities.
In an interview with The Hill, Freedom Festival organizer Laquan Austion said he hopes the event in the nation’s capital can help all of America celebrate what he “the nation’s second Independence Day.”
“You know, we often say that June 16th is not a black holiday, not an American holiday. It’s not just for black people, it’s an American holiday and I think it’s clear what it’s for,” Austion told The Hill.
“For us this June 16th is incredibly important, it’s special and I’m particularly looking forward to this year being the first year it’s been a federal holiday and ensuring that people from all walks of life are reaching out to all parts of the country can … celebrate the nation’s second Independence Day.”
Others expected at this weekend’s celebrations include rappers TI, Rick Ross and Big Sean, musicians Maxwell and Keri Hilson, former NFL quarterback Michael Vick, entertainer Terrence J. and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D).
A year ago, President Biden signed the June 16 National Independence Day Act, establishing June 16 as a national holiday.
June 16, often referred to as the Jubilee or Emancipation, marked the emancipation of the last African Americans to be freed from slavery in the United States
Producer Pharrell Williams’ music festival, Something in the Water, is also taking place in DC over the weekend of June 16th.