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23rd Annual Juneteenth Celebration and African American Living Legend Awards Planned at BlackRock

Montgomery County’s 23rd Annual Juneteenth Celebration will be held at the BlackRock Center for the Arts located at 12901 Town Commons Drive in Germantown on Saturday, June 15.

The event will feature the traditional events, which include the award recognition ceremony and Juneteenth barbecue dinner. New this year, the festivities will include an uplifting line-up of musical and theatrical entertainment, for the whole family, inside and on the lawn of the arts center.

The Montgomery County Office of Human Rights and the County Executive’s African American Advisory Group are coordinating the program with special sponsorship from BlackRock Center for the Arts, which commemorates the 154th anniversary of the events of June 19, 1865. On that day, Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its enslaved persons. The event today is known as Juneteenth and is celebrated widely across the United States.

Doors will open at 3:30 pm. The event will include a presentation by Dr. Alonzo Smith, retired professor at Montgomery College and a community activist, entitled “Reconciliation or Human Right: Conflicting Views of the Civil War" at 4:00 pm.

That presentation will be followed by County Executive Marc Elrich will hosting the African American Living Legend Awards, to honor distinguished individuals who are living legends in Montgomery County and have helped shape the cultural heritage of the African American community. The honorees have dedicated their lives to service and excellence, with accomplishments in such as business, health, media, sports, educations, law, ministry, community organizations, medicine or the arts.

The Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological & Scientific Olympics students of the Montgomery County NAACP Branch will perform as part of the Living Legend Awards presentation.

The event will also feature a traditional barbecue beginning at 6:00 pm after the Living Legend Awards.

At 7:00 pm, the one-woman show, “Harriet Tubman's Road to Freedom,” written and directed by Percy Thomas featuring Eunice L. Seagraves in a powerful show about the abolitionist, nurse, soldier, spy and conductor of the Underground Railroad.

The evening will be capped off with a screening of the feature film “Mudbound” a hard-hitting saga of the often abused life of black tenant farmers during the turbulent 40's wanting a fair opportunity to live and raise a family.

Other musical performances will include the band Rags playing the Blues and R&B and Ronnie and Family from the famed Ohio Players with gospel and soul and beginning at 6:45 pm. Bring lawn chairs for the musical performances on the lawn.

“The end of slavery not only meant freedom for a people, it meant freedom for a nation, however, nothing is guaranteed; as we saw social justice and equality threatened and snatched away in the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia as acts of hate was broadcast across the world,” said Office of Human Rights Director James Stowe. “This is a must attend program for every freedom-loving member of our community….don’t just come alone; bring your entire family.”

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