NEW: Knoxville celebrates Juneteenth

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Martin Luther King, Jr. marches with other Civil Rights leaders during the March on Washington. Image courtesy of the National Archives.

The City of Knoxville is set to host a Juneteenth parade and celebration Monday to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and observe the holiday set aside to commemorate the freeing of African-American slaves in the 19th century.

The holiday marks the end of chattel slavery in the United States when federal troops; including Black troops, arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to announce that all enslaved people be freed. The announcement was made two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln, according to the Beck Cultural Exchange Center. The holiday’s name, Juneteenth, is a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth.”

The parade will begin at 10 a.m. at Chilhowee Park, continue down Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., and conclude at Dr. Walter Hardy Park.

A special tribute event will be held at the park following the parade. The event is set to begin at noon and will feature remarks by Rev. Dr. Harold Middlebrook, music by Brian Salesky from the Knoxville Opera along with classically trained vocalist Michael Rodgers, and a special Juneteenth presentation by Arteece Slay.

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said she plans to participate in the parade.

“Juneteenth is not just a historic milestone that’s important to African-Americans—it’s a holiday deserving of observance by all Americans,” said Kincannon.

Anyone who would like to register for the parade can do so through the official event website or by arriving at Chilhowee Park by 8 a.m. on Monday.

To learn more about Juneteenth’s history and the events planned for the weekend, visit the Beck Cultural Center’s website.

Published on June 19, 2022.