In 2021, President Joe Biden passed the bill that made Juneteenth a federal holiday. Now, the White House is celebrating by hosting a Juneteenth concert on Tuesday (June 13).
Tony winner Audra McDonald, Clifford “Method Man” Smith, Jennifer Hudson, Ledisi, actors Colman Domingo and P Valley star Nico Annan, the Morgan State’s Magnificent Marching Machine, and Tennessee State’s Aristocrat of Bands are among the performers.
“Juneteenth marks both the long, hard night of slavery and subjugation, and a promise of a brighter morning to come. This is a day of profound — in my view — profound weight and profound power,” Biden said in his remarks when he signed the bill. “A day in which we remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take — what I’ve long called ‘America’s original sin.’”
Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, represents the day that slaves in Galveston, Texas were told they were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier. Slave owners kept that information from slaves to continue to exploit their labor.
Juneteenth is the newest federal holiday. The last one was to commemorate Martin Luther King’s birthday in 1983.
Due to the work of people like Opal Lee, considered the godmother of Juneteenth, and after the racial uprising in 2020, Biden signed the bipartisan bill into law on June 17, 2021. The concert is being held during Black Music Month, which amplifies traditionally Black recording genres and artists.
“Two years ago, President Biden signed legislation to establish Juneteenth as the first new Federal holiday since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day nearly four decades ago and he is proud to host the first Juneteenth Concert on the White House South Lawn,” said Steve Benjamin, senior advisor to the president for public engagement.
“This is a day to celebrate as the Biden-Harris Administration continues to take an unprecedented whole-of-government approach to advancing equity and addressing the lasting impacts of systemic racism on Black communities.”
The Biden administration is partnering with Urban One, the parent company of CASSIUSLife, on the concert.
“We are thrilled to be a media partner for the inaugural White House Juneteenth concert. We join the Biden-Harris Administration in celebrating Juneteenth and the community, culture and music of a people who helped shape the very foundation of this nation,” Michelle L. Rice, president of TV One and CLEO TV said in a statement.
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