DuSable Museum, Chance the Rapper celebrates Juneteenth

The smell of barbecue and the sound of jazz music hovered through the air as people picnicked on a green lawn and the kids jumped on a bouncy house and slid down an inflatable roller coaster. Some children waited anxiously in line with their parents so they could go horseback riding.

Others walked around the stands, breathing as temperatures reached the 80s and the sun blazed down on their shoulders. The booths displayed shirts and jewelry, promoted mentoring programs, offered beauty products and more.

This was the Juneteenth scene Sunday afternoon at the newly renamed DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center.

Shettima Webb, a small business owner, talked about celebrating Juneteenth as a black woman.

“It’s like a mixed case – you feel sad because there’s a reminder, wow, in this country there was slavery, but then you also celebrate the progress that has been made,” Webb said. “We do not forget where we come from, but we also want to recognize where we are going, so Juneteenth is important to everyone, not just black people.”

The holiday celebrates the June 19, 1865 announcement to enslaved black people in Galveston, Texas, that slavery had been abolished after the liberation proclamation had been signed 2 years earlier by President Abraham Lincoln.

On Sunday, the block party was filled with musical performances, lively conversations and good food. Chance the Rapper, born and raised in Chicago and scheduled to perform at night, co-sponsored the event.

The musician walked around during the afternoon, mingling with visitors and taking pictures.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot showed up early and took the stage to reflect on the importance of Juneteenth – first recognized as a municipal holiday.

“Juneteenth every year should be a call to action,” Lightfoot said. “A call to ensure that we do everything we can to ensure that our young people in particular understand their history and that we once again commit ourselves to correcting historical mistakes and uplifting equality in our society.”

She also discussed the significance of Father’s Day, which coincided with Juneteenth this year.

‘Black fathers are important. Black fathers do not always get their right, ”she said, taking a moment to thank her father. “Let us make sure we remember Juneteenth, that we celebrate our heritage every day, and that we say ‘thank you’ to our fathers.”

Tiffany Richardson, 39, said seeing so many people and groups showed how the day went beyond African American history.

“So, it’s like a celebration of so many different things, you know? Small businesses, African Americans, Americans,” she said. “It’s just so cool.”

She said she was part of the Chicago Metropolitan alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, which co-sponsored the blockbuster with Black Mall, which provides digital marketing solutions to black businesses.

A couple of block party attendees wore head wraps with vibrant patterns and matching earrings that they had purchased from Webb, the business owner who makes jewelry and described himself as an accountant by day. The Black Mall invited small, black-owned businesses together to attend the event.

Reflect on the need for black businesses to help each other, Webb said her venture, ME Marketplace, is an incubator for 10 black-owned businesses that can practice cooperative economics in Forest Park.

Bringing so many people together for a day of celebration took a lot of preparation and collaboration, said Kim Dulaney, vice president of education and programs at the DuSable Museum.

“It’s definitely a joint love work,” she said.

“Happy June. A party with a purpose, right?” said Dulaney. “Remember the reason for the holiday.”

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