Dance floor to pop up in Downtown Brooklyn for Juneteenth celebration
Downtown Brooklyn is preparing to celebrate Juneteenth this weekend with music and dancing.
The Plaza at 300 Ashland will turn into a dance floor for the whole borough on Saturday.
The day commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. It was about 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in Southern states.
President Joe Biden signed a bill making it a federal holiday last year.
"We have a long-standing tradition of uplifting the brilliance and vitality of black culture which includes Juneteenth,” says Toya Lillard, of Brooklyn's 651 Arts.
The performing arts and culture group and Brooklyn Downtown Partnership have organized the event for the second year in a row. Organizers say this year's event is centered around music and liberation.
"Music allows us to express ourselves freely, so we wanted to recreate that. Where Black folks can come together and talk about liberation, can dance together,” says Monica L. Williams, the event's co-curator.
First, a panel discussion will be held at 1 p.m. at the Center for Fiction. Williams says, "We're going to talk about what it means to be a Black woman and what it means to be inspired by music and art making."
Next, there will be a chance to take one-on-one lessons with acclaimed DJs around 3:30 p.m.
"DJ Reborn, many people know her as the DJ for Lauryn Hill. She opens for Lauryn Hill, for the Roots, Common,” Williams says.
Choreographer Kendra Ross, who is hosting the event, will lead traditional line dances.
“Line dances for the African American community are such a galvanizing piece of our culture. So, I'm excited to bring that element to such an iconic celebration within our African American history,” Ross says.
To wrap up Saturday's event, a lineup of black female DJs will rock the plaza until 8:30 p.m.