This year… A Virtual Juneteenth at Montpelier

Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas in 1980, and a number of other states subsequently followed suit. It is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States.

When I was growing up in immediately post-war Southern California I knew the name Juneteenth, after all my great Aunt DeeDee was the president of her local NAACP, but it wasn’t a public holiday, just a historical event that only Black folks knew about.

I was busy being a farmer in South Dakota when Juneteenth began to be a nationally recognized day of recognition that I mostly heard about on public radio.  So it wasn’t till I came to Virginia and became a historian that Juneteenth became an annual event in which I took some part. 

Which brings me to Montpelier.  There, for several years, I have had the great pleasure of talking Emancipation, slavery, and African American foodways for their annual event.

Cooking over an open fire and talking to the visitors has always been a long and fulfilling day for me. I usually make my biggest 5 gallon cast iron kettle full of chicken stew, and many, many, many corn pone (small fried corn cakes) to share.  Last year my helpers and I fed over 250 visitors hot samples fresh from the griddle.

Sigh!! As you can well imagine the COVID shutdown has us presenters and museum personnel deeply disappointed at the necessary cancellation of the live event.

Hurrah! Montpelier has created a VIRTUAL JUNETEENTH to be online and I get to be part of it. I am so very delighted.  Here I am with the lovely videographer Jeni as we film inside one of the South Yard Dwellings.

For dates of release do check at the Montpelier website: https://www.montpelier.org/

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