SYRACUSE, NY (NCC NEWS) — The Salt City will host Juneteenth Community Day at the Everson Museum of Art on Saturday. Juneteenth, while a new federal holiday, dates back to June 19, 1865. It is the oldest, nationally celebrated commemoration of slavery ending in the United States of America.
For the third year in a row, the Everson Museum of Art will host an event dedicated to African American history, culture and pride, in honor of the holiday.
Adam Carlin, director of learning and engagement at the Everson Museum of Art is partnering with artists and musicians in the community to showcase African American history in a different light.
One muse behind this year’s art exhibit is Sharif Bey, a Syracuse University professor of art.
Bey will provide a free tour of his unique, hand-crafted masterpieces on Saturday, in honor of Juneteenth.
“His work really looks at the heritage of Africa, Oceania and explores different objects that are taken out of different contexts and have different meaning,” Carlin said.
Some of Bey’s art works are made from materials like ceramics and glass. Bey’s artwork helps inspire and educate the Syracuse community on African American roots, dating back to slavery and the journey to liberation.
“There’s a lot of motifs and themes within Sharif Bey’s work,” Carlin said. “They are definitely applicable to Juneteenth and it really is the back drop of all of the programs we’re doing.”
In addition to the art tour, staff at the Everson Museum of Art will provide guests with a host of performances, arts and crafts activities and live music.
Kishi Ducre is a African American Studies professor and works as the associate dean of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for Syracuse University and says she has mixed feelings about the holiday.
“Juneteenth is African Americans’ Fourth of July,” Ducre said. “The Fourth of July does not register for African Americans because July 4, 1776 they were not free; they were still enslaved.”
It was not until June 19, 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed that slaves in Galveston, Texas discovered they were free from the systemic chains of slavery.
While some are overjoyed with the progress thus far, Ducre acknowledges that there is still work to be done.
“I think in the midst of celebrating, people need to understand the context of this, that many who had been working on these issues for years saw it as an appeasement in the George Floyd murder,” Ducre said.
Ducre says African Americans need much more than a holiday.
“It’s an appeasement from talks about reparations,” Ducre said. “It’s an appeasement without talking about how do we improve the rates of health and quality of life for African Americans.”