‘Juneteenth is a special day’: DC celebrates the holiday with a block party

dancing outside
Juneteenth marks the date in 1865, when the last slaves, in Texas, found out that they had been freed.
people behind stand
Visitors stopped at pop-up vendors.
people playing chess
This street festival included local and Black-owned businesses.
dancing outside
people behind stand
people playing chess

A Juneteenth celebration in Northeast, D.C., on Wednesday put the focus on wellness and community.

Visitors stopped at pop-up vendors selling artisan candles and workout gear as well as sticky snow cones to beat the intense heat. The street festival, at the Bryant Street Northeast development, included local and Black-owned businesses, fitness classes, a DJ and live performances by an all-women’s drum line and the Metropolitan Police Department’s own go-go band.

One vendor, Danielle Marietta, a children’s book author and publisher of other minority writers, told WTOP, “I think it was important for me to bring my three Black children out to see everything there is that they can do.”

On the way to the festival, she said she explained to them the importance of the holiday.

“This is the day when we were truly free. We need to celebrate each other and support one another.”

The holiday marks the date in 1865 when the last enslaved people in Texas found out they had been freed.

“Juneteenth is a special day,” said Vaughn Bennett, of the D.C. State Chess Federation, who had set up several chess boards open to anyone who wanted to play. “We need to let people know that they can exercise their minds and unite and come together and celebrate.”

This inaugural Juneteenth block party at Bryant Park happened thanks to a partnership between developer MRP Realty, the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation and FITDC.

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Shayna Estulin

Shayna Estulin joined WTOP in 2021 as an anchor/reporter covering breaking news in the D.C. region. She has loved radio since she was a child and is thrilled to now be part of Washington’s top radio news station.

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