Today’s That Day – Juneteenth 2020 – Whatzup Wit Dat? – What Makes Denver Colorado’s Celebration So Special – The Mural Art Show Makes It Mo Betta

I was aware of the history of Juneteenth, but not until recent years.  That’s important to note for a few reasons. 

First, I want to make it clear to non-African Americans, as you may be actively trying to “relate” to the Black experience during Revolution 2020, that it is not only you who must become familiar with African American history, some Blacks are foreign to much of it as well. 


Secondly, Juneteenth may not be familiar to many Blacks (and most Americans) simply because, though it is a part of American History, it is really a direct part of Texas’ history. 

Its relevance may not be as appreciated by states other than Texas.  But during current times this celebration is becoming increasingly more important.  There are demands to make Juneteenth a national holiday in honor of African American slaves gaining freedom.

2019-Juneteenth-L2-0129In many cities where I’ve lived, Juneteenth was not celebrated but was sometimes honorably mentioned, because the historical event did not occur there.  Luckily, I lived in Texas where I was first exposed to Juneteenth.  But I still did not know many details.  So, I will provide such details, while further educating myself on my history.

I was exposed to it, without a thorough understanding.  After doing research, I understand and want to share this understanding with you.

I was familiarized with Juneteenth about 10 years ago.  I cannot remember ever celebrating or even knowing of Juneteenth when in New Orleans, San Francisco, Dayton, and in other cities where I’ve lived, prior to living in Texas.

But in Denver, Colorado, USA, Juneteenth is celebrated with vigor, surprisingly.  It’s surprising because Denver has a small African American population, less than 10%.  Denver’s population is over 70% White, as of 2014.

Here is our population breakdown as of 2014:

Denver Colorado Population by Races – USA.Com

White: 473,269 (74.67%)
Black: 61,868 (9.76%)
Hispanic: 197,760 (31.20%)
Asian: 22,301 (3.52%)
Native (American Indian, Alaska Native, Hawaiian Native, etc.): 7,658 (1.21%)
One Race, Other: 46,828 (7.39%)
Mixed – Two or More Races: 21,853 (3.45%)

Now, I am becoming more impressed that Denver, a city whose culture has been White-privileged for many long years, and that is predominantly White, now honors this annual Black celebration in a spirited way.  The events are organized by the Black community, but Whites and Latinos are impressively participatory.  They are especially participatory during the current race Revolution 2020.

I should not be surprised because Denver also holds one of the largest MLK Day marades (march + demonstration + parade).  And, don’t get me started again on how well the Denver area Whites are showing up in the #BLACKLIVESMATTER5280 rallies and events.  The #BLM marches and events are still occurring every day, three weeks after the murder of George Floyd.  I must give my city credit.  I am impressed with Denver in this regard.

What’s more impressive than the White showing is that Denver public school students, and other students, actively participate in marches, protests, and rallies.  This is not a new phenomenon.  Denver Public Schools encourages student participation as a civic duty.

Photo - Washington Post - Tay Anderson

Tay Anderson, at 21, is the Denver school board’s youngest African American member ever elected to public office in Colorado. Tay is tireless and does an exceptional job at rallying the troops for great social and humanitarian causes while remaining nonviolent.

These young people are the future.  They are the ones who will be sadly left with the responsibility of eradicating racism.  I would not be as impressed if the participants were a bunch of ‘old farts’ like myself.  But I am impressed with Denver’s especially young White participation in African American causes.  Big ups, Denver!

Colorado guns in schools debate

Students participating in school walkout should…

Students, teachers, and community members take part in a gun violence protest on Feb. 21 at the Colorado Capitol. As many as 1,965 schools and organizations across the country are scheduled to participate in Wednesday’s #Enough National School Walkout to End Gun Violence.

PHOTOS: Denver MLK Marade – Colorado Times Recorder

Photo Gallery

Denver Public School Students Lead The Charge In Sunday Protests – By Makenzie O’Keefe – June 7, 2020 – CBS 4 Denver News

As a Black man, I am not too bothered about previously not knowing about Juneteenth.  This is not because I don’t care.  It is because over the years I have become overwhelmed with historical and ancestral facts to which I am clueless.  It hurts a little, so I don’t focus on it much, but do try to learn as I go along.  To a point, I have accepted not knowing, and maybe never knowing some historical facts.  But I will continue to learn more day-by-day.  This is just the nature of the beast of racism.  I am expressing this sentiment because I want my White allies to know this.

This brings me to my third point.  As we attempt to heal America’s racial wounds, Non-African Americans must accept that African Americans may be as disconnected from their history as are Whites.  We are learning together. 

We are learning about ourselves; Whites are learning about us.  But in contrast, Whites know their histories and ancestry quite well, all way down to ancestral lineage and surnames.  Don’t hate us for not knowing from whence we came.  It is the nature of the racist beast.

Juneteenth Historical Highlights

  • January 1st, 1863 – The Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln officially declaring the freedom of over 3.5 million black slaves.
  • April 12th, 1861 – The American Civil War began and four long years later, the Confederacy was defeated at the total cost of six hundred twenty thousand. Union and Confederate soldiers.
  • June 2nd, 1865 – The time the war ended in 1865, about 180000 black men had served as soldiers in the U.S. Army.
    • About 90,000 were former or contraband slaves from the Confederate States.
    • About half of the rest were from the loyal border states and the rest were free blacks from the north.
    • 40,000 black soldiers died in the war, 10000 in battle.
    • 30,000 from illness or infection.
  • During the war – Slavery in Texas was relatively unaffected because the state experienced no large scale fighting or a significant presence of Union troops. Many slave owners from outside the Lone Star State viewed it as a safe haven and moved there with their slaves after the war came to a close in the spring of 1865.
  • June 19th, 1865 – With general Grangers arrival in Galveston to announce that the civil war had ended signaled freedom for Texas as 250,000 slaves, they had no idea that their freedom had been secured by the government.
  • General Granger made the following announcement, which read as follows:
    • The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation from the executive of the United States, all slaves are free.
  • Celebrations broke out among newly freed blacks, although emancipation didn’t happen overnight.
    • For everyone on plantations, Masters had to decide when and how to announce the news or wait for a government agent to arrive.
    • In some cases, slave owners withheld the information until after harvest season.
    • Those who acted on the news did so at their peril.
    • Many men and women were lynched or shot in their attempts to pursue their newfound freedom.
    • The newly freed black men and women of Texas now had a date to rally around in one of the most inspiring grassroots efforts of the post-Civil War period.
  • They transformed June 19th from a day of unheated military orders into their own annual right, Juneteenth, beginning one year later in 1866.

June 2020 – And, here we are today, freed slaves without equality, equity, or safety from police violence.

History of Juneteenth – Jun 9, 2018 – Roland Wiley

History Of Denver’s Juneteenth Celebration

  • The Blair Caldwell African-American Research Library reveals to us the history of the people of five points relative to the Juneteenth celebration in Denver.
  • Texas one of Denver’s largest populations of migrants. Some of those migrants started Juneteenth in Denver.
  • Terry Nelson , the library senior collection special’s manager, says Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
  • It was started by author Pea Rice, who was born in Texas but moved to Colorado as a boy and later owned the popular RAICES Taproom Jazz Club. He organized the city’s first Juneteenth celebration in 1953.
  • Another five points businessman Big Al Richardson took over the celebrations in 1966 and it became a yearly four-day event. Another early Juneteenth organizer was Leroy Smith, a versatile business owner and the first black deejay on Denver radio. He was an influential figure in five points owning the Rainbow Ballroom and organizing the wild game Feast of Colorado.
  • The event and Five Points has grown to one of the largest Juneteenth celebrations in the West. People from all over the city attended, but it was most precious to the neighbors in the community.
  • This year, the Juneteenth Festival will be held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The history of the Juneteenth celebration in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood – Jun 16, 2020 – Next 9NEWS
The vault: Five Points leaders who pioneered Juneteenth in Colorado – Jun 18, 2020 – Denver7 – The Denver Channel

Denver Juneteenth & The Five Points Neighborhood

You would think that this year’s Juneteenth celebration would be low-key because of COVID19.  It has virtually shut down normal activities in most cities.  This year the celebration had to go virtual, streaming events and performances, as opposed to doing them live in the Five Points neighborhood.

Five Points was called the “Harlem of the West” and had a vibrant music scene until the 1960s when the population declined, and businesses suffered after new housing laws made it possible for middle-class blacks to find better housing elsewhere.

Today the neighborhood is bustling with the development that has brought prosperity but also raised concerns about how best to preserve the area’s history and community.

In other words, it’s gentrification has gone wild in the Five Points neighborhood, one of many reasons why Black are so frustrated with institutionalized racism, along with police killings, poor education, lack of healthcare, and employment & income equity.  Though we are vibrant in our marches and protests, gentrification has decimated the history and culture of the Five Points neighborhood.  But, that is another story.

Whites and Blacks should take note that institutionalized racism runs rampant in America, in spite of the wonderful vigor of the #BLM rallies.  We should all take note as to not be disillusioned and allow the amplification of the protests to indicate that ‘we are making progress’, more than we actually are

The protests are fine, but at the end of the day, “show me the money, honey!”  Many White protesters undoubtedly return to their gentrified homes and condos, in gentrified neighborhoods after participating in the #BLM rallies.  This must be addressed as well.

I spoke to a White pastor the other day who told me that he is “just listening” to the voice of African Americans with regard to current racial tensions.  That was the best response I’ve received from those who sincerely want to better understand.  Often I receive comments from followers who tell me, “I’m listening”. 

Please hear me and other Blacks out.  We have a lot to say.  It is our time to talk, your time to listen.  Whites please listen to the various ways that institutionalized racism stifles Blacks.  Think about how to address gentrification, in Five Points, and everywhere.  Do not just march without taking further steps.  Listening without judgment would be a huge start.  Source Includes Colorado Encyclopedia


Denver 2020 Juneteenth Mural Art Festival 2020

As part of the Juneteenth celebration, an organically-formed group, set up a makeshift art gallery.  The festival was made possible through a collaboration between Rob the Art Museum and IRL art.

At the protest site, in front of the Colorado state capitol building, the city or sponsors constructed 6 or so foot high plywood boards around the square’s monuments and statues.  They painted each of the four sides black, forming cubes, and let the artists go for it.

The coronavirus and racial protests clearly impacted the art pieces that the artists created on location.  I have included images, videos, and interviews below.

Several of the artists who participated were members from a collection of artists by the name of Innervisions Collection.  Innervisions Collective is a collection of very talented Women Artists who create stories to express the desire for freedom.

Though there were several female artists, there was also an almost equal number of male artistsl.   They all showcased one piece, sharing the common theme of Freedom, in front of the Colorado state capitol building.  Their works will be on display through June 30th.

They create other types of art, as well.  …Breaktaking artwork!  Some of their pieces are shown in the photo gallery and video below.

The artists are exceptionally talented.  There they go again; the Millennials are impressing me more than my generation ever did!

The art on display may be referred to as street or mural art, but the works are far more impressive than the gang graffiti that I see sprayed on walls, as I ride the metro.  I’ve learned that there are basically eight types of graffiti.

The Juneteenth Mural artists display all styles, as well as, styles that are not considered street or graffiti art.  Now I am a big fan of mural

2020 Juneteenth Black Love Mural Festival Art Cubes

Cube 1 –
Cube 2 –
Cube 3 –
Cube 4 –
Cube 5 –
Cube 6 –
Cube 7 –
Cube 8 –

Mural Art Styles Include:

  1. Types of mural art :

    The word mural starts from the Latin word “murus”, signifying “divider”. Today, we can characterize mural art as any bit of work of art painted or connected specifically onto a divider, roof or other bigger perpetual surfaces, leveled, inward or curved, to be exact. The most admired work of mural art was by numerous artists, including experts like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti. The specialty of mural-ism prospered amid the 1920s, after the Mexican unrest.

    Mural paintings are a trend as old as people, these mural paintings were admired in ancient times and now this form of art is claiming another level of popularity. In early times mural paintings were only the sketching, paintings and etchings but now it carries a stronger message with cultural connotations and elaborate art techniques. The mural art is different from other artwork because of its priceless presentations of variety of cultures.

    Painted mural – Mural paintings are quite common. Often artists use acrylics to paint wall forms to express their ideas. They are the human portraits and carry a powerful message for the audience.

    Abstract murals – These pieces can either be on giant canvas or can be partitioned into different areas.

    Ceramic Murals – These are the principal sort of custom size paintings and they are comprised of mirrors, mosaic and artistic pieces. This sort of paintings speak to brilliant depictions of high class creative impulses and in addition masterful aptitudes.

Source – Types of Mural Art – Alya Khemji – Oct 12, 2018 

The art show has been the jewel of my Juneteenth experience this week.  Below you will see why in the pic and video.

Though the Juneteenth celebration has gone virtual, this new paradigm has many advantages that outweigh not being able to see performances live.  Bringing the festival to the internet has resulted in reaching a broader audience and sponsors.  This may be a sign of the future for the celebration, as the entire world is trying to find ways to interact, without being so touchy-feely.

The parade still occurred but to a lesser degree.  However, when I attended  I was again impressed again with the large outpouring of support, again, including many Millennial Whites.

The coronavirus and racial tensions are making Juneteenth better because it is also igniting greater passion in the creations of the artists, performances, students marching, and broadening the appeal to Whites.  The organizers of this festival acted quickly to adapt to the new world in which we live.

Juneteenth is not just a Black thing.  It is an American thing.

The Artists Of The Juneteenth Mural Festival

Eryk Fisher, Annie Phillips, Robert Gray – robtheartmuseum – @Rob The Art MuseumOrganizer – Our mission is to educate, engage & inspire our communities using Art – @robtheartmuseum –

Artists IGs

Juneteeth Mural Art Gallery

Here is a sample of just some artists and some of their creative work.

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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 Denver Juneteenth 2020 Black Love Mural Festival – A Celebration Of Expression

As I experience today’s crucial times, protests, and pandemic with everyone else, I wonder if when I was the age of the millenniums, was I as impressive to people my age as they are to me right now.

I have been overwhelmed with how young Millenniums have responded to the crisis that we face today.  I’ve been attending the rallies, meeting at the Colorado State Capitol, every day just to be involved.  Now I’m getting to know some of the young people who are active participants in The Revolution.  Each one impresses me in their own special way.

I have been most impressed by the artists I’ve met. 

Of all the events that have attended, the most impressive has been the Juneteenth mural art gallery, organized by Robert Gray (Rob The Art Museum), Eryk Fisher, and Annie, Phillips whose mission is to educate, engage & inspire our communities using Art – @robtheartmuseum.

I hope you enjoy would I’m sharing it with you.  Kevy


Denver Juneteenth 2020 Mural Art Celebration Of Expression – Jun 19, 2020 – Kevy Michaels 

2019 Juneteenth Photo Gallery

2019 JUNETEENTH MUSIC FESTIVAL – Apr 24, 2020 – Juneteenth Music Festival – Denver

Here is a glimpse of how Denver Colorado normally celebrates Juneteenth.  2019 Juneteenth Music Festival in Denver, Colorado featuring Ashanti, JuJu, and more. #DREAMBIG #IAMJUNETEENTH

2020 Juneteenth Music Festival  – Denver – Juneteenth 2020: Celebrate and learn virtually with black leaders in Denver – By Catherine Henderson – The Denver Post – Jun 17, 2020

Norman Harris and Jason McBride have participated in Juneteenth their entire lives. Now, things will look a little different.  Read More

Ways you can celebrate Juneteenth virtually – Bobbi Sheldon – Dacia Johnson (9NEWS)
Published: 6:40 AM MDT June 18, 2020

Here is how you could take part in the celebrations while also practicing social distancing.

Ways you can celebrate Juneteenth virtually

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