The second annual Arlington Juneteenth Jubilee will host a variety of events designed to feed the mind, body and spirit.
The three-day event, set for June 17-19, includes activities previously planned for this year’s Arlington Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, which was postponed from January because of the coronavirus pandemic. One of the highlights from the Arlington Juneteenth Jubilee will be the premiere of the first episode of the “Echoes from The Hill” docuseries.
Other activities will include live music and poetry readings, dancing, shopping, food trucks, an ecumenical service and volunteer opportunities throughout the community. Most of the activities will be held in Downtown Arlington and are free.
“It’s a community celebration filled with fun, food, fellowship and something for everyone,” says Shirley Adams, who has served on the Arlington Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee for the past 28 years.
The Arlington Juneteenth Jubilee kicks off Friday, June 17 with a private reception and a ticketed screening of “A Place of Our Own,” the first episode of a new documentary that explores what life was like for Black residents in a small Arlington community known as The Hill. Ticket information will be available at arlingtonjuneteenthjubilee.org.
The Arlington Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee sponsored the episode, which will also be screened for the public at no cost each hour between noon and 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, at the Arlington Music Hall (224 N. Center St.).
The Hill, an approximately five-block area of the city, was the only historic addition platted specifically for Arlington’s African American residents. The first episode features photos, maps, documents and excerpts from interviews with Black residents and their descendants who lived in this community.
“History is about how people existed in a time and an era. It’s about celebrating that existence, the highs and the lows, the surviving and the thriving, and how they worshiped, how they worked and how they related to each other,” Adams says. “It’s the total span of their lives and told from their perspective and in their voice. This documentary gives credence to the voices of others who lived a life experience in a certain time and in a certain place.”
Interviews include the Rev. Carl Pointer, Bob Ray Sanders, Randy Parker, Bertha Jones, Geraldine Mills and Beverly Jackson on topics ranging from segregation to influential church and business leaders to the vibrant night life in The Hill. The film also features scholars Gene B. Preuss, Ph.D., and W. Marvin Dulaney, Ph.D., who explore African American life in North Texas after emancipation, as well as the history of racial control that would evolve into Jim Crow laws.
The documentary was produced by Southroad Pictures and Sagassé Media Group, with associate producers Geraldine Mills, Anthony Cisneros and Shirley Adams and executive producers Lisa Thompson, Jennifer Wichmann, King Hollis and Lindell Singleton. The project was funded by the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation.
Saturday, June 18 offers a day filled with activities, starting with an MLK Day of Service at 8 a.m. Volunteer opportunities, available for all age groups, will range from sprucing up lawns for residents in need to sorting donations at Mission Arlington.
“It’s about being able to share and give back to others and make the world a better place,” Adams says. “It’s great to pass that generational philosophy and those values on to young people,”
The Day of Service Festival will then be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at City Center Plaza, located between City Hall and the George W. Hawkes Downtown Library. The festival will include dance performances, face painting and other children’s games and activities. Residents are invited to learn more about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, and significant moments in the Civil Rights movement through Tarrant County College’s virtual MLK Historical Timeline Exhibit, which will be on display inside the Downtown Library.
Saturday’s events also include an art festival on Main Street, music, food trucks and discounts offered by participating Downtown restaurants and shops. Visitors are invited to bring their blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy free music at Levitt Pavilion Arlington from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The Arlington Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma is sponsoring the Arlington Juneteenth Celebration at the Levitt Pavilion, which will feature local artists performing various genres of family friendly music, headlined by R&B/Jazz recording artist Ron Artis II and the Truth.
To close out the Jubilee, the Greater Community Missionary Baptist Church at 126 E. Park Row Drive will hold an ecumenical service at 6 p.m. Sunday. All are invited.
The Arlington Juneteenth Jubilee is organized by a committee comprising members from the following organizations and businesses: the Arlington Museum of Art, Viridian DFW, the Levitt Pavilion Arlington for the Performing Arts, the City of Arlington, Downtown Arlington, Arlington Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma and the Arlington Public Library and of course the Arlington Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee, Inc.
Organized in 1989 and established as a nonprofit in 1990, the MLK Celebration Committee has been an active contributor to the community for over 30 years. The MLK Celebration Committee has given out scholarships to graduating students, donated time, and resources to the community while continuing to push forward the message and dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The committee is supported by Arlington ISD, the Arlington Ministerial Association, Tarrant County College Southeast Campus, the City of Arlington and The University of Texas at Arlington.