By Walter Rutledge
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. This observance should hold the status of an African- American Independence Day. Juneteenth 2020 will take place on Friday; and to commemorate the 155 anniversary of independence Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet Dance Company of Brooklyn and NYC Summerstage with present a virtual celebration entitled Hanging Tree. This virtual event will take place on Friday June 19, 7pm on Summerstage YouTube.
The production brought together the talents of dancer James “Banks” Davis, musician Talu Green, vocalist Marcelle Davies Lashley, poet Carl Hancock Rux, choreographer/director Jamel Gaines and members of the Creative Outlet family. Mothers and fathers performed with sons and daughters, brothers and sister, nieces and nephews, and present and former company members brought love, creative, reverence and community to the steps, plaza and base of the Doric styled Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument in Brooklyn’s Fort Green Park. Immediately following the performance there will be a panel discussion lead by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancer/choreographer Hope Boykin.
O&A NYC attended the filming of the presentation and brings you a sneak preview of Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet’s Hanging Tree.
Preview Hanging Tree: A Juneteenth Celebration
On June 19th, 1865 a regiment of Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas. One of Granger’s first order of business was to read to the people of the city a document entitled General Order Number 3. The proclamation began:
“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”
Juneteenth honors the memory of all people who have broken the chains of oppression and dehumanizing servitude. It is celebration of those who have the obtained freedom, either through the joys of emancipation or the unfortunate inevitability of death. On Friday June 19 we wish you all a joyous Juneteenth and a happy African- American Independence Day.