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The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

32nd Juneteenth events salute ‘Black Girl Magic,’ Native American parallels

Macon-Bibb celebrations begin in Pleasant Hill June 7 and run through June 19, the date Texas slaves learned of freedom 
Courtesy George Muhammad
The 32nd annual Juneteenth Freedom Fest returns to Tattnall Square Park June 15 and 16, but several events are planned in Macon from June 7-19.

Juneteenth, a celebration of America’s enslaved people learning of their freedom nearly 160 years ago, has only been a national holiday for three years, but Macon’s been marking the occasion for decades. 

In 1983, George Muhammad organized the first Juneteenth Freedom Festival in Tattnall Square Park through the Kwanzaa Cultural Access Center, which is still at the helm with Torchlight Academy. 

Over the last few years, more organizations have joined in planning the party, including Macon Black Culture, which is partnering with the legacy organizations for the 2nd Annual Juneteenth Parade down Cherry, Second and Poplar streets June 16.

Traditionally, Muhammad’s main festival falls on Father’s Day weekend, and his 32nd event is no different, despite the federal holiday falling on June 17. 

“I’m not as focused on that,” Muhammad told Macon-Bibb County’s Martin Luther King Jr. Board at its last meeting. “We will definitely take advantage of that going forward.” 

For more than 30 years, he has honed in on raising consciousness of the observance, which the MLK Jr. board supports in its mission to support organizations and activities in line with King’s teachings.

What has been top of mind for Muhammad is raising awareness about June 19, or Juneteenth, the actual date slaves in Texas learned of their freedom in 1865.

The Juneteenth BBQ is planned for June 19 at Greenwood BBQ, which recently opened at 1087 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Macon Black Culture’s events culminate that day with a barbecue at Greenwood BBQ, recently opened by the organization’s Nadiyah and Brandon Harris at 1087 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

This year’s celebration kicks off Friday and Saturday with the Pleasant Hill Neighborhood Reunion to celebrate the legacy of the neighborhood that birthed Little Richard before being split by Interstate 75.

Also this weekend, Macon Black Culture kicks off with a mixer at 6 p.m. at Niche at 385 Second St. and Saturday’s Honors and Junior Debutante Presentation from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Tubman Museum. Tickets for that event are $25. For more information, call Nadiyah Harris at 404-394-9462.

Tracing history to its origins is the theme of activities Sunday, June 9, when Washington Memorial Library Archivist Muriel Jackson will lead a free workshop at 3 p.m. on the campus of St. Peter Catholic School in the Mother Mary Catherine Drexel Center.

That evening at 6 p.m. features a Nature Walk for Peace and Wisdom at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park.

“That’s something that’s deemed to be an asset to one’s holistic health,” Muhammad said. “To walk through the nature trail and just enjoy the beauty.”

Muhammad said local historian Lonnie Davis will share “a lot of untold stories” from thea perspective of a leading outreach expert in interconnectivity of heritage of Black and native people.

Monday to Thursday, June 10-13, free Black History van tours will depart from Terminal Station at 6 p.m. Call 478-718-8067 to reserve a seat. 

On June 11, Macon Black Culture hosts a Wellness Retreat, likely to be held in Rosa Parks Square at 7 p.m. Details have yet to be finalized, but information will be posted at

Also during that week, Real Talk Hip Hop Arts in the Neighborhoods plan free interactive education sessions that will be announced at a later date. Call 714-866-8052 for information. 

Those neighborhood meetings culminate Friday, June 14 for the 19th Annual Real Talk Hip Hop Summit at the Douglass Theatre from 10 a.m. until noon. The free summit will cover the impact of hip hop and explore a hands-on presentation of the original art forms. 

Later that night, Macon Black Culture hosts a Black Party Fundraiser at Serenity at 427 Poplar St. 

Muhammad’s involvement in the celebration crescendos with the Freedom Festival at Tattnall Square Park June 15 from 1-9 p.m. and June 16 from 3-9 p.m. 

The event features historical exhibits, cultural arts, health and wellness activities, food and vendors.

The MacTown Groove Ensemble provides a live concert Saturday with Ajile Axam’s Dancical Productions African & Modern Dance Theatre in addition to Black Union Soldiers, Divine Nine Showcase and fashions. Organizers plan a fireworks show to end that Saturday evening.

The Fathers and Family Celebration June 16 honors the legacy of historic Black colleges and universities, HBCUs, presents a return of the Black Union Soldiers, more arts and educational activities, live music Gospel and Hip Hop music and wraps up with Grammy Award-winning saxophonist David Sanchez Latin Jazz with Little John Roberts. 

This is the second year Macon Black Culture has partnered to present the Juneteenth parade that begins at 3 p.m. June 16 with the theme is “Black Girl Magic” to celebrate the accomplishments of African American female musicians, entrepreneurs and community leaders. 

Participants are encouraged to incorporate the theme into their parade plans.

Graduates also are invited to be in the parade for a $75 participation fee, which is the same for non-profit organizations. Other groups pay a $100 entry fee and car clubs with more than five vehicles will be charged $150. 

There is no fee for school bands to enter, but applications must be emailed to [email protected] by Friday June 7. Entry forms are available at

Tuesday the 18th, Macon Black Culture holds a night of storytelling at Serenity beginning at 6 p.m. 

The public also is invited to participate in the Black Business Crawl by supporting minority-owned establishments throughout the celebration. 

While speaking to the MLK board, Muhammad pointed out there are a lot of people working together to create a multi-generational celebration for the community to come together in unity and enjoy. 

Board Chair and Macon-Bibb Commissioner Elaine Lucas agrees it is important to reach young people and promote the legacy of Dr. King. 

“I’m afraid we’re losing so much,” she said. 

Harris said many of the activities Macon Black Culture is adding to the celebration are designed to reach youth. 

“We definitely want the community to come together just in unity, in love, and just observing how important this holiday is and what it means to us,” she said. “We want to make sure that the younger generation continues the torch with education… we definitely want to hit the younger audience because a lot of things get lost in translation.”

Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government entities and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.

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