Several events are planned for Juneteenth celebrations, now a national holiday, in Fort Smith, including a performance in downtown Fort Smith by the U.S. Army Field Band Jazz Ensemble and a theater production of “A Raisin in the Sun.”
According to Juneteenth.com, the holiday is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
“From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement,” noted the website.
64.6 Downtown and the Fort Smith Round Table worked together on two free musical events, with one being part of the Levitt AMP Music Series. Miss K’s Dance Bungalow and New Breed Brass Band will perform 6:45 to 9 p.m., June 16, in the Riverfront Park Amphitheater. On June 19, The U.S. Army Field Bank Jazz Ensemble, along with Rodney Block and Genine Latrice Perez will participate in the “Song’s of Freedom and Voices of Unity” event, also held in the Riverfront Park Amphitheater. That free event begins at 5 p.m. and is scheduled to end at 10 p.m. Comedian Joe Torry will host the June 19 event.
“64.6 Downtown is pleased to work in concert with the Round Table to expand free, live music
downtown leading up to the Juneteenth holiday. We are elated the U.S. Army Band Jazz Ensemble selected Fort Smith to perform their tribute. They wanted to contribute to a communities Juneteenth celebration with their production of Song’s of Freedom, and it came together,” said Talicia Richardson, executive director of 64.6 Downtown.
The “Making History Gala at Freedom Farms” is set to begin at 6 p.m., on June 17 at Freedom Farms in Chaffee Crossing. The event will include a cocktail hour, dinner prepared by Chef James Thomas of The Rialto Restaurant, live entertainment by local and regional artists. Tickets are $150 each and can be purchased at this link.
“A Raisin in the Sun” will begin at 7 p.m., June 18, at the ArcBest Performing Arts Center in the Fort Smith Convention Center. The city of Fort Smith, University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, Walmart, and Punkin Pictures collaborated to bring the production to Fort Smith.
According to a press release from the office of Fort Smith Mayor George McGill, the play follows the three-generation Younger family as they grapple with different definitions of the American Dream, and how to achieve it. When the matriarch, Lena, buys a home in an all-white neighborhood, the Youngers are greeted by thinly veiled racism and financial pitfalls that threaten to pull the family apart and push their dreams out of reach.
Tickets are $40 and $20 for students. Link here for ticket information.