Remembering, Honoring, and Celebrating Juneteenth. Schedule for 2023’s Juneteenth Festival

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The Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County, in partnership with the City of Asheville, has planned the 2023 Juneteenth Celebration with the intended outcomes of a diverse celebration that fosters broad participation, fosters community awareness and appreciation, and celebrates the liberation of enslaved people. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Thus, starting the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. The City of Asheville designated Juneteenth as a City holiday in 2021, and on June 8, Mayor Esther Manheimer issued a proclamation acknowledging Juneteenth as a day of celebration for Black Americans.

The 2023 Juneteenth Celebrations include five “Lunch and Learn” Sessions, five African Americans in Films Entertainment Events, and a two day Juneteenth Festival in Pack Square Park. The full list of Juneteenth celebratory events is listed on the Association’s website.

Each of the “Lunch and Learn Sessions” has been strategically placed throughout Asheville’s historic community centers to encourage all citizens access to various topics, while giving individuals a chance to visit centers that they might not often frequent. The schedule is as follows:

  • Monday, June 12, Noon – 1 p.m., Linwood Crump Shiloh Community Center, Dr. Oralene Simmons and Mr. Jonathan McCoy, “Historical Facts of Juneteenth”
  • Tuesday, June 13, Noon – 1 p.m., Stephens-Lee Community Center, “Community Reflections on the Historic Stephens-Lee High School”
  • Wednesday, June 14, Noon – 1 p.m., Tempie Avery Montford Community Center, Mr. Matthew Bacoate, Jr., “Reflections on Life in Black Asheville”
  • Thursday, June 15, Noon – 1 p.m., Burton Street Community Center, Apostle Inez D. Ray, Rev. Alfred Blount, and Rev. Brent LaPrince Edwards, “The Role of the Black Church in Asheville”
  • Friday, June 16, Noon – 1 p.m., Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Community Center, Mr. Drew Reisinger, “Slave Records Research” & Ms. Linda Brown, “African-American Cemeteries Research”

The films listed below will also be shown each evening, June 12 – 16, at Ferguson Auditorium, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Monday, June 12
  • Ali, Tuesday, June 13
  • The Woman King, Wednesday, June 14
  • Ray, Thursday, June 15
  • Madea’s Family Reunion, Friday, June 16

The Juneteenth Celebrations will culminate with a two-day Juneteenth Festival at Pack Square Park, Saturday, June 17, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., and Sunday, June 18, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. Featured groups include:

  • Guest MC, Ty Russell, WLOS
  • The Stanley Baird Group, LLC
  • Westsound Productions
  • Virtuous
  • Malecia Williams
  • Delta House Jazz Band
  • Eaze Dogg
  • Hypnotic Band
  • The Carolina Diva Diamondz and Others

All events are FREE to the public due to the generous donations and/or sponsorships of the following organizations:

  • The City of Asheville
  • Buncombe County
  • Arts AVL
  • Explore Asheville
  • Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
  • Burial Beer Company
  • Mission Health Asheville
  • Asheville City Schools Foundation
  • Juneteenth of Asheville

For more information about Juneteenth Celebrations, contact Dr. Joseph Fox, at