Ahead of CNN’s inaugural “Juneteenth: A Global Celebration of Freedom” concert, 95-year-old activist Opal Lee, who fought for years to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, told CNN’s Don Lemon that she “pinched herself.”
“I want you to know that it’s inconceivable to think that we’re actually on vacation,” she said.
Lee, considered “Juneeteenth’s grandmother” for his activism, will also be honored during CNN’s Juneteenth event. Each year, Lee walks 2.5 miles to symbolize the two and a half years that the enslaved African Americans lived in slavery in Galveston, Texas, after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
Juneteenth – that is, June 19 – celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. Lee said Americans should spend the holidays celebrating, learning and continuing to learn and grow.
“I’m in favor of us celebrating from June 19th to July 4th,” she said. “To would celebrate freedom. ”
Sunday’s concert will feature performances by black artists, including Earth, Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan, Mickey Guyton and the Roots.
Also President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, former First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Scott who will deliver spoken word.
The entire creative team behind the concert is Black, CNN’s Sara Sidner reported prior to the event, including creator Shawn Gee from Live Nation Urban and Jesse Collins Entertainment. The evening is also the first time an all-black orchestra, the Re-Collective Orchestra, will play the Hollywood Bowl, Sidner said.
This is the second year the United States has recognized Juneteenth as a federal holiday, but many black Americans have celebrated the date for years with parades, parties and family gatherings. The holiday is also an opportunity to reflect on the persistent systemic inequalities that black Americans face.