Juneteenth celebrations to honor MLK

Jay FitzInside 640, Knox Scene

To honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and commemorate Juneteenth, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Commission is sponsoring two events to recognize King and to celebrate Juneteenth, the day that marked the effective end of slavery in the United States. Due to the pandemic, the customary King Week Celebration events held in January were postponed. The theme for the King and Juneteenth Celebration events is “A Legacy of Righteous Purpose, Social Justice, and Racial Equality.”


The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Commission Leadership Awards Luncheon will be held Thursday, June 17, at noon at the Knoxville Botanical Garden, 2743 Wimpole Avenue. The Rev. Dr. William Terry Ladd III, minister at First Baptist Church – Chattanooga will be the keynote speaker. To purchase tickets, go here

On Saturday, June 19, at 1 p.m. the MLK Commemorative Commission and the Beck Cultural Exchange Center present a Juneteenth Celebration at the World’s Fair Park Festival Lawn. The Rev. Daryl Arnold, Overcoming Believers Church, is the keynote speaker. Other performances: The Carpetbag Theatre will perform an excerpt from their production “Covid Stories: When the Hugs Went Away;” Knoxville’s Poet Laureate Rhea Carmon; Drums Up! Guns Down! By Indigenous Vibes (Obayana Ajanaku); The Nonviolent Hero Puppets; Preston Johnson (soloist), Michael Rodgers (soloist), DJ Kevin Sanford, Jack and Jill Oratorical Contest winners; and the Rev. Renee Kesler, presiding.

The World’s Fair Park event is free and open to the public and will be held rain or shine under a tent. Feel free to bring lawn chairs and blankets. CDC Covid-19 protocols will be in place. Mike’s Food Truck will be on location, and One Knox Legacy Coalition will be present to disseminate voter registration information.

The Beck Cultural Exchange Center is also hosting a virtual town hall, “One Year Later … Where Are We Now?” on Friday, June 18, at 4 p.m. Beck is also hosting the Emancipation Exhibit & Juneteenth Memorial Tribute beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 19, outside on the center grounds. Go here for more information on both events.

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