Home Local News White House Juneteenth Concert Celebrates Black Music, Denounces Racism

White House Juneteenth Concert Celebrates Black Music, Denounces Racism

Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands performs at the White House Juneteenth celebration. The Grammy-award winning band, fondly called AOB, was part of an all-star music event as President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden hosted dignitaries for the first Juneteenth Concert on the White House South Lawn. 

President Joe Biden delivered a powerful speech denouncing racism in the United States during the White House’s first major Juneteenth celebration on Tuesday, July 13.

The Biden-Harris administration hosted a Juneteenth concert featuring renowned singers Jennifer Hudson, Audra McDonald, and Ledisi, aiming to highlight American values Biden said he believes are under threat.

Addressing the audience, Biden urged Americans to choose love over hate and emphasized the importance of remembering history rather than erasing it.

He stated, “As the past few years remind us, our freedoms have been put at risk by racism, that’s still too powerful a force. Hate only hides… And when given oxygen, just a little oxygen, it comes roaring back out again, and we have to stand up and deny it the oxygen. So, Juneteenth as a federal holiday is meant to breathe new life into the very essence of America.”

Juneteenth, a combination of June and June 19, is called Emancipation Day.
Biden declared it a federal holiday in 2021.

The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Texas to inform a group of enslaved African Americans of their freedom after the Confederate states had surrendered to end the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation had already declared their freedom.

Juneteenth has been celebrated as a holiday in Texas since 1980, and U.S. presidents, including George W. Bush, have marked the occasion with solemn statements from the White House.

Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black woman vice president, began the evening by explaining the origins of Juneteenth and introducing 96-year-old Opal Lee, whose tireless advocacy played a significant role in establishing Juneteenth as a holiday.

Lee urged the audience to be catalysts for change, saying, “Make yourself a committee of one to change somebody’s mind. If people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love.”

A celebration of community, culture, and music, the White House event on the South Lawn featured performances by marching bands from Morgan State University in Baltimore and Tennessee State University in Nashville.
Other artists included the dance group Step Afrika! and choirs from historically black colleges and universities.

Biden emphasized that making Juneteenth a federal holiday was not merely a symbolic gesture but a statement acknowledging the origin of slavery as the country’s original sin.

He stressed that the Civil War was not fought solely over a union but was fundamentally about the country and freedom.
Harris expressed that Juneteenth is an occasion to honor Black excellence, culture, and community, stating, “America is a promise – a promise of freedom, liberty, and justice. The story of Juneteenth, as we celebrate it, is a story of our ongoing fight to realize that promise. Not for some, but all.”

In addition to commemorating Juneteenth, the concert celebrated Black Music Month, featuring renowned artists such as McDonald and Hudson.

The event aimed to showcase the richness and significance of Black contributions to American culture.

Related Posts