The Quest For Freedom: Juneteenth and Beyond June 23, 2022

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Miami MoCAAD
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Veo Veo, I See I See, Mwen Wè Mwen Wè at the Lawson E. Thomas Law Office Mural by Mojo, June 17, 2022

OVERtown: Our Family TreeHistoric Overtown.

“OVERtown: Our Family Tree” is the example of creating a revolving cycle of change within our community for generations to come....This piece of art displays our resilience, class, courage and hope for a better tomorrow!

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Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom from centuries of enslavement. The holiday commemorates the June 19, 1865, emancipation of Texas enslaved people.

Miami MoCAAD’s Juneteenth newsletter invites you to explore emancipation celebrations symbolized by the Emancipation Oak at Hampton University, artist contributions and trends, trailblazers, and freedom songs. Miami MoCAAD kicked off Juneteenth virtually and in-person on June 17, with the launch of the Veo Veo, I See I See, Mwen wè Mwen wè Interactive Mural and Oral History Project, honoring the legacy of Miami’s first Black judge, Lawson E. Thomas, who fought for equality, and fairness and the right to vote.

"A Black Union soldier stationed at Jacksonville at the end of the Civil War made his case succinctly: ‘There is only one thing I want: that is my vote.’ " Juneteenth calls all to celebrate the right to vote.

Paul Ortiz, Emancipation Betrayed.

–Miami MoCAAD

Bisa Butler, I Go To Prepare A Place For You, 2021

Bisa Butler (1973- ), originally trained as a painter, is a textile artist who explores marginalization, resulting in depictions of family, community, and legacy. This quilt portrays abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who transported 70 enslaved Black people North to freedom.

Helina Metaferia, HEADDRESS XXIX, 2021 (Ethiopia) 

Helina Metaferia (1983- ) is an interdisciplinary research artist who integrates archival research, and works across collage, assemblage, video, performance, and social engagement. A daughter of Ethiopian activists who grew up in Washington, D.C., Metaferia is well positioned to explore questions about American-ness melded with African sensibilities.

Carolyn Lawrence, Black Children Keep Your Spirits Free, 1972

Carolyn Mims Lawrence (1940- ) is a visual artist, teacher, and member of AfriCOBRA known for her role in the Chicago Black Arts Movement. Coming of age in the 1960’s filled her with a desire to make a change and led to her lifelong dedication of uplifting Black art and artists. Her work was included in Soul of a Nation and AfriCOBRA: Messages to the People.

Stephen Towns, We Shall Pass through the Combahee, 2019

Stephen Towns (1980- ) creates work highlighting the strength of enslaved ancestors. His Harriet Tubman quilt series reimagines history and uplifts Harriet Tubman. We Shall Pass through the Combahee refers to the Combahee River Raid, celebrating Tubman as the only woman to lead a military operation during the Civil War.

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Richard Hunt, Slowly Toward the North, 1984

Click for (Interactive Mural and Oral Histories)

Click for video: Juneteenth #CreativeConversation of Mural Launch

Click for Juneteenth Kick off Newsflash

Jacob Lawrence, The American Struggle, Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, MA)

The Peabody Essex Museum reunited Jacob Lawrence’s 30 hardboard panels from his groundbreaking series Struggle: From the History of the American People (1954–56). The work traces American history from the Revolutionary War to 1817, covering the Boston Tea Party and the bloody, prolonged campaigns against Native Americans. Amy Crawford noted in Smithsonian, “Virtual visitors can stroll through the exhibition, titled “Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle,” or zoom in on images of each panel.

David Gumbs, Echos of Souls, 2021

David Gumbs’ interactive video installations “Echos of Souls, 2021” & “Echos of My Skin, 2021" spoke about his Black Creole and French identity, environmental flux, and global migrations. These large-scale real-time video projections were displayed on two buildings. Viewers’ movements triggered computer-generated animations inspired by the artist’s heritage and Caribbean flora and fauna.

COMPLEX MOVEMENTS is an artist collective exploring science and social justice movements through multimedia interactive performance. Beware of the Dandelions is a mobile art installation that projects performance and generative design onto the surface of a pod to create an immersive visual and sound experience, incorporating science fiction, songs, and interactive game elements.

(Rex Springston/ For the Virginia Mercury)

In 1863, the Emancipation Oak became the site of the first southern reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. The tree stands near the entrance of the Hampton University campus and is a lasting symbol of freedom and the university’s rich heritage and perseverance. The peaceful shade of the young oak served as the first classroom for newly freed men and women who were eager for an education.

Photograph of June 19, 1900, Emancipation Day Celebration Band in Austin, Texas. Photo by Mrs. Charles (Grace Murray) Stephenson. Austin History Center, PICA 05481, General Collection Photographs, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas.

The celebration of Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when the abolition of slavery was finally enforced in Texas. On January 1, 1990, Black legislator Al Edwards worked to make Juneteenth an official state holiday in Texas. Juneteenth was recognized as a federal holiday on June 17, 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law.

The Juneteenth flag, designed in 1997, with its current design debuting in 2000, alludes to the strength and resiliency of enslaved Africans of the past and their descendants present and future.

Emancipation Day is commemorated on May 20 in North Florida. On May 20, 1865, General Edward M. McCook announced in Tallahassee that enslaved people were free citizens. Formerly enslaved people celebrated the news at Tallahassee's Bull's Pond. In 1991, in response to Dr. Alzo Reddick’s advocacy, the Florida Legislature designated June 19 as “Juneteenth Day” to commemorate the freeing of enslaved people but did not make this date a legal holiday.

Fort Mose Historic State Park is a National Historic Landmark in St. Augustine, FL, that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the site of the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in what is now the United States. The first freedom seekers arrived in 1687. In 1738, the Spanish governor of Florida chartered Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, or Fort Mose, as a settlement for those fleeing enslavement from English colonies in the Carolinas.

In Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, Paul Ortiz documented that newly emancipated Floridians understood the “connection between economic justice and electoral politics.” A Black Union soldier stationed at Jacksonville at the end of the Civil War made his case succinctly: ‘There is only one thing I want: that is my vote.’

AP Photo/Denis Farrell. File

In this April 27, 1994, file photo, people queue at a primary school to cast their votes at a polling station in Soweto, South Africa, as the country went to the polls in the country's first all race elections. Africa National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela went on to become the country's first Black president after his party won the vote.

Charles Alston, (Untitled) Civil Rights, circa 1960
Alain Locke in an undated photograph
Photograph courtesy of Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University

Alain LeRoy Locke (1885-1954) was a writer and philosopher whose writings on ideas of the “New Negro” formed the intellectual underpinnings of the Harlem Renaissance. Locke’s work projected a Black person who was to advocate for their self-interests, politically and culturally, and the author looked to Africa to inspire new, innovative work. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard University, was the first Black Rhodes Scholar, and taught at Howard University.

Malick Sidibe
Credit: Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Malick Sidibé (1936-2016) was a Malian photographer who rose to prominence during the 1960’s. His photographs captured youth culture and fashion in Mali. From 1998 to 2009, Sidibé was a commissioned fashion photographer for Vogue, Elle, and Cosmopolitan.

Jacob Lawrence, Photograph Courtesy of the Phillips Collection

Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000), one of the most prominent American painters of the 20th century, was the first Black artist to be represented by a New York gallery. The Museum of Modern Art and the Phillips Collection jointly acquired his Great Migration series, their first acquisition of work by a Black artist. Lawrence’s first narrative series, "The Life of Toussaint L'Ouverture," (1936–38), honors Haitian heritage.

Celebrate Juneteenth and freedom with this staff-selected playlist! Feel inspired by artists from the United States to Nigeria, including Nina Simone, Janelle Monee, Bob Marley, the Wailers, and Hugh Masekela. Listen, enjoy, and reflect!

Miami MoCAAD's Juneteenth Playlist

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On Juneteenth

Combining American history, family chronicle, and memoir, Annette Gordon-Reed’s On Juneteenth presents a historian’s view of the long road to Juneteenth, recounting its origins in Texas and enormous hardships African-Americans have endured from Reconstruction through Jim Crow and beyond.

The Common Wind: Afro-American Currents in the Age of the Haitian Revolution By Julius S.Scott

The Common Wind is a gripping account of the intercontinental networks that tied together the free and enslaved masses of the New World. By tracking colliding worlds of buccaneers, military deserters, and maroon communards from Venezuela to Virginia, Scott records the transmission of contagious mutinies and insurrections in unparalleled detail, providing readers with an intellectual history of the enslaved.

From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americansby John Hope Franklin

Since its original publication in 1947, From Slavery to Freedom has stood as the definitive history of African Americans. John Hope Franklin and Alfred A. Moss, Jr. give a detailed account of the journey of African Americans from their origins in Africa and centuries of enslavement in the New World, to successful struggles for freedom in the West Indies, Latin America, and the United States.

Juneteenth for Mazie By Floyd Cooper

Juneteenth For Mazie follows Mazie as she gets ready to celebrate Liberty & Freedom and her ancestors' liberation from slavery.

The Story of JuneteenthBy Dorena Williamson

The Story of Juneteenth introduces children to June 19,1865, when General Gordon Granger informed the people in Galveston, Texas, that all enslaved people were free and the Civil War had ended. The book also connects those events to today’s celebrations.

Juneteenth (Beautiful Me) By Anece Rochell illustrated by Audeva Joseph

Juneteenth is an entertaining picture storybook that explains the origin, customs, and importance of the Juneteenth Holiday, in a fun and interactive way.

The Queer | Art's Illuminations Grant for Black Trans Women Visual Artists has a June 30th deadline to apply. The $10,000 grant offers professional development resources. Contact: Queer|Art Awards Manager Dani Brito

The Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Emergency Grant program offers a one-time assistance grant for specific unforeseen emergencies that include fire, flood, or emergency medical needs to qualified painters, printmakers, and sculptors with at least ten years’ involvement in a mature phase of their work. Click here.

The Awesome Foundation is a micro-granting foundation that awards $1,000 every month. It has 83 chapters in 13 countries. The no-strings-attached grants are for projects and creators who seek to get their ideas into the world. Click here to apply.

The Miami MoCAAD Team

Miami MoCAAD Board Members:

Marilyn Holifield, Hans Ottinot, Monique Hayes, Sheldon Anderson,

Dr. Nelson L. Adams III

Volunteer-Museum Working Group

Michelle Johnson

Director of Interactive Media

Corbin Graves


Charlie Farrell, Christian Allen, Yasmine Northern

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