National Juneteenth Observance Foundation  Nevada 
2020- 2021

Together, we will see Juneteenth become a National Day of Observance 

Click here to edit text

By Blake Apgar Las Vegas Review-Journal
June 3, 2021 - 1:33 pm
Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.

A flag raising ceremony Thursday outside North Las Vegas City Hall commemorated the end of slavery in the United States.

The ceremony came a day after the North Las Vegas City Council adopted a resolution to recognize Juneteenth as an annual celebration of the freedom of Black people from slavery.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when slaves in Galveston, Texas, were notified of their freedom by Union soldiers. Texas had defied the end of enslavement ordered by the Emancipation Proclamation more than two years earlier.

The day is formally recognized in 49 states — including Nevada — and the District of Columbia. There is an ongoing effort to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Contact Blake Apgar at [email protected] or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.


10 years after Nevada bill, Juneteenth ‘is going to free the world’

Former Nevada Assemblyman Harvey Munford speaks to the Review-Journal about the 10th anniversary of the passage of his bill to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday at his home in Las Vegas, Monday, May 10, 2021. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae

Former Nevada Assemblyman Harvey Munford speaks to the Review-Journal about the 10th anniversary of the passage of his bill to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday at his home in Las Vegas, Monday, May 10, 2021. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae

Former Nevada Assemblyman Harvey Munford speaks to the Review-Journal and Dee Evans, president of Juneteenth Nevada, about the 10th anniversary of the passage of his bill to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday and the ongoing efforts to make it a national holiday at his home in Las Vegas, Monday, May 10, 2021. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae

 

May 28, 2021 - 6:04 pm

  

Updated May 29, 2021 - 10:00 am

With the passage of a state law 10 years ago, Nevada began officially observing Juneteenth, memorializing the end of slavery in the U.S.

Former Nevada Assemblyman Harvey Munford, the 2011 bill’s primary sponsor, recently recalled that he was “excited” to introduce the legislation.

As a local educator for more than three decades, he had been particularly struck by the prospect that Juneteenth Day could serve as a long-term teaching tool.

“We should know the true history of America,” he said.

Juneteenth, which is now formally recognized in 49 states and the District of Columbia, commemorates June 19, 1865. It is when remaining slaves in Galveston, Texas — a state defying the end of enslavement ordered by the Emancipation Proclamation nearly three years earlier — were notified of their freedom by Union soldiers.

For advocates, such as Munford, 80, Juneteenth extends beyond recognition of a historical moment. It is a movement that calls for year-round education about the broad and personal experiences of African Americans in the U.S. and the celebration of their freedom and achievements.

“You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going,” said Dee Evans, a prominent statewide advocate. “And Juneteenth kind of illustrates that.”

Evans, the founder and CEO of Juneteenth Nevada, one of many state-based affiliates of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation across the country, first approached Munford in roughly 2006 about officially recognizing the day in Nevada.

The legislative advocacy is not over, however: There is an ongoing push to make Juneteenth a federal holiday and a Senate bill and House resolution introduced in February to do so is co-sponsored by four members of Nevada’s federal delegation.

“We need people to understand that Juneteenth is for everybody,” Evans said. “1776 freed the country, Juneteenth is going to free the world.”

Stories hard to come by

While reflection is a critical tenet to the movement, it is also complicated on a deeply personal level: Families from the south, at least in Evans and Munford’s experiences, can be reluctant to pass on stories of strife to next generations.

 

“We did not talk about it,” said Evans, who had learned through research that her mother’s family came to St. Louis and Illinois in the 1890s after six family members were lynched in the Memphis area.

“My grandfather told me to study the family history but even he didn’t tell me the story,” she added. “He didn’t tell me he changed his name.”

Munford’s grandfather was born 10 years after Juneteenth and his mother was born in 1918 in Birmingham, Alabama. But Munford grew up in Ohio.

“They were so happy to come to the north and they didn’t want to ruin us thinking about how it was in the south,” he said.


Curing a wound

Evans suggested that the misguided notion has been to not speak about anything if it is bad, as if it did not happen.

“You cannot cure a wound unless you open it up and drain the poison out,” she said. “You cannot know that you can achieve unless you know it’s been done, unless you have the confidence, unless you have the discipline, the respect of yourself as well as your family members. We lost a lot of that.”

But as much as the effort is about tracing African-American history, personal or not, it is also often correcting it, “because so many of the stories that you hear are not true,” she said.

She believes it is important to set the record straight, from the minor but pertinent details of how the slaves in Galveston were freed, to the erasure of Black inventors who never received proper credit for their work.

Steve Williams, the president of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, said he wished that more people understood that Juneteenth is ultimately about self-reliance. He said when slaves in Galveston were told they were free, they heard it from Black Union troops.

“The self-agency of the delivery of freedom is the first thing you have to understand,” he said.

Tied to social justice

Williams also said that Juneteenth has always been a part of the social justice movement and thus “it’s extremely critical to what’s happening today.”

This period of unrest and action over racism and the killings of Black people by police officers has “brought us to the forefront,” Evans said, noting that her phones were ringing off the hook after George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis.

“It gave us the opportunity to educate, to discuss, to bring it out in the open,” she said.

Evans arrived in Las Vegas in 2005 from Chicago, where she had been introduced to the Juneteenth movement by the late Rev. Ronald V. Myers, the founder of the national organization. Now she said the mission is embedded in her and she feels compelled to share it, particularly for her grandchildren’s sake.


Full slate of events

Educational outreach will serve as the backdrop of a series of events set in June throughout Southern Nevada leading up to June 19, including flag raisings, workshops, unity walks and art and musical entertainment.

The Rainbow Dreams Educational Foundation is also hosting the 20th annual Las Vegas Juneteenth Festival at Kianga Isoke Palacio Park on June 19.


“There’s enough Juneteenth for everybody,” Evans said.

Juneteenth Nevada, which is funded largely out of pocket and by small donors, also plans to recognize pioneers in the Historic Westside and record the oral history of residents in the area, she said.

“It’s not just our history, it’s the city’s history, it’s the country’s history,” she said. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. You cannot take the whole thing at one time. You’ve got to do lots of little bites and we’ve got people in 50 states biting away at the story.”

For more information on Juneteenth Nevada events, contact Dee Evans by phone at 888-509-6563, ext. 701, or by email at [email protected]

Contact Shea Johnson at [email protected] or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.


Juneteenth events

June 3 – Flag raising at North Las Vegas City Hall, 2250 Las Vegas Blvd N, North Las Vegas, 9 a.m.

June 7 – Flag raising at Las Vegas City Hall, 495 S Main St., Las Vegas, 10 a.m.

June 11 – Juneteenth Jazz Legacy and Heritage Festival at Water Street Plaza, 240 S Water St., Henderson, 5 p.m.

June 12 – Essence to Africa presentation at Whitney Ranch Recreation Center, 1575 Galleria Dr., Henderson, 2 p.m.

June 13 – Unity caravan beginning at old Moulin Rouge, 900 W. Bonanza Rd., Las Vegas, 12 p.m.

June 13 – Dashiki Sunday at West Las Vegas Arts Center, 947 W Lake Mead Blvd., Las Vegas, 12:3o p.m.

June 17 – Flag raising at the Martin Luther King, Jr. statue, 1344 W Carey Ave., North Las Vegas., 11 a.m.

June 18, 19 – Workshops and photo exhibits at the West Las Vegas Art Center, 947 W Lake Mead Blvd., Las Vegas., 11:3o a.m.

June 18 – 10th Annual Juneteenth Jazz, Arts and Spoken Word Celebration at the West Las Vegas Library Theatre, 951 W Lake Mead Blvd, Las Vegas, 12 p.m.

June 19 – 10th Annual Juneteenth Jazz, Arts and Spoken Word Celebration at the West Las Vegas Library Theatre, 951 W Lake Mead Blvd, Las Vegas, 11:30 a.m.

June 19 – 20th Annual Las Vegas Juneteenth Festival at Kianga Isoke Palacio Park, 951 W Lake Mead Blvd, Las Vegas, 6 p.m.

Contact Dee Evans by phone at 888-509-6563, ext. 701, or by email at [email protected] for more information.