Juneteenth 2022

Celebrate freedom this Juneteenth with UCAC by joining a dedication ceremony Friday, June 17th, and a celebration on Saturday, June 18th.

Three Hero's Dedication

The festivities begin Friday, June 17, 2022, at 6 pm for the Three Hero's Dedication Ceremony at Elmer Brown Freedom Park.

The ceremony recognizes Elmer Brown Sr., founder of the United Committee of Afro-American Contributions, John G. Lancaster, the first African American elected to the St. Mary's County Board of Commissioners, and Joseph Lee Somerville, the first black sheriff in St. Mary'sCounty and Maryland. These three men distinguished themselves by the good work they did to benefit their communities. A bronze plaque has been installed in honor of each of them that tells a small part of their life story.

Find more information about the dedication ceremony here.

Main Stage Event

The festivities continue Saturday, June 18, 2022, from noon to 6:30 pm with the 17th Annual Juneteenth Celebration featuring gospel and jazz music, spoken word performances, African dance and drummers, children’s activities, speakers, history lessons, food, artisans, and much more.

Find the full schedule of Main Stage events here.

About Juneteenth

on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, the people of Texas were informed by Major General Gordon Granger and backed by 1,800 troops of the Union Army that in accordance with a Proclamation, General Order No. 3, issued from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This proclamation announced the end of the Civil War and the freedom of enslaved peoples in the State of Texas. This involved absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them became that between employer and free laborer. While Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had gone into effect on January 1, 1863, emancipating all enslaved people in those states in rebellion against the United States, the decree had not yet taken effect in Texas due to its distance from Union armies.

That evening, thousands of people in Galveston celebrated their freedom with dancing, singing, and feasting. In the years that followed, other southern cities also began to organize Juneteenth festivities. It was not until January 1, 1980, however, that Juneteenth was designated an official state holiday in Texas. Through the efforts of African American state legislator Al Edwards, Juneteenth became the first emancipation celebration granted official state recognition.

Today, Juneteenth is celebrated not only in Texas but in cities throughout the United States. In 2021, President Joseph R. Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Juneteenth activities include picnics, parades, barbecues, ball games, and family reunions. It is also a time for people to recount the events of the past. Today Juneteenth has taken on a more national perspective, celebrating African-American freedom while encouraging self-development and respect for all cultures.

Learn more about Juneteenth here.

Explore St. Mary's African American History & Heritage Sites