As we end Pride and enter a new season of celebration for independence, there is a nouveau holiday between the two to acknowledge, Juneteenth. It is not just for one group but a moment commemorating liberation for all people in America. All About Us festival accomplished this ideology by exploring the history and significance behind this milestone in a family fun-filled day at Liberty State Park.
Our forefathers liberated themselves from the colonial hold of Great Britain on July 4 1776, resulting in a national revolution that created the essence of the American spirit. However, every person in America was yet to be free. Whether you were born in this country or chose to adopt America later in life, Independence Day became a historically marked occasion that changed an entire nation. When the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia with all of the founding fathers gathered together to join forces and fight for freedom, it was groundbreaking. We learn about this moment in history from the time we begin school through the annual celebration of fireworks and barbecues across our country. This documentation marks the official day American colonies fought to be their government.
Not all persons in this country were made free from ownership. June 19th,1865, was the day that enslaved people learned that their present way of life was over. Although many slaves were freed after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Texas waited two more years until June 19, 1865, which is when the army intervened.
The Union, also known as the official army of the United States, came to Galveston, Texas and took control of that area. It marked the end of the Confederate Army’s ability to use force to keep the system of slavery. Union General Gordon Granger not only declared slavery had ended, but all formerly enslaved people would be in a state of absolute equality with whites. This notion of equality is the foundation of the American ideology, which links to the Declaration of Independence. Therefore this makes July 4th and June 19th united in their concept of freedom.
In June 2021, a new law passed marking Juneteenth as an official federally observed holiday. A year later, the All About Us festival was born. “Juneteenth is being observed as a new holiday. For us we wanted to incorporate an educational component to our event,” says Founder Shannon Mitchell. “And for those who are not Black American, we want everyone to feel welcome to come and celebrate with us. We’re talking about freedom. Everyone understands freedom and should want to celebrate it. Hence the name ‘All About Us.’
Stemming from a deep passion for travel and wanting to bring people together. Co-Founder Davon Robinson highlights, “Our goal was to create a brand that wasn’t about getting some of the most popular artists and having a drinking party. Our thoughts, how can we create something that is catered towards a more varied and mature population. Create a bridge between family and cool. Good music. Drinks in a controlled environment. Opportunities for kids to run around and have fun. A day where families can come together and enjoy themselves. We wanted to cater towards that multicultural demographic . We have many different sounds, shades of blackness, and experiences that cultivate our identity. How do we create that connective experience that speaks to that.”
Shuttles greeted guests at the parking lot entrance to usher them to the front gates of the festival. Music crooned through the air, from Gospel to Afro-Funk to house music to live DJ performances from the likes of DJ Clue, DJ Quiana Parks, DJ Sango, DJ Wallah, and DJ First Choice. Concluding with a live performance from Hip-Hop legend Slick Rick. Refreshing summer cocktails were served in controlled areas within the park. Following an abundance of local food vendors such as Freetown Road Project, Lady G’s Empanadas, Blackstone, Neapolitan Love, Magic Mike Smoked Meats, Sweet Trail Bakery & Vegan Cafe and many more. Activities and activation kept guests entertained from Gotta Go Gaming to Add Some Photos to Mana Contemporary.
The incredible All About Us team helped bring this family event to life for the community. A staple has been set. “We would like to take a moment to give a special recognition to Liberty State Park for their support in our partnership and allowing us to organize our event at one of the most historic parks in the State of New Jersey. Additionally, Jersey City’s Council President Joyce Watterman has been incredibly supportive throughout our efforts to produce this event from the beginning, along with local Jersey City community leaders Courtney Sloane, Jermaine Robinson, Winard Harper, former Governor Jim McGreevey and many more – all of whom brought into our vision to aid us in a variety of ways. We are excited for the future of “All About Us” as we grow in Jersey City with the people of Jersey City” says Shannon.
Juneteenth is an umbrella celebration for all emancipation. May this equally important part of our history, the day all slaves were liberated from slavery in America commence going towards a brighter future for the generations to come. People from all ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds unified to celebrate the mission of togetherness.