Emancipation & Esteem

by Sally Steele

Juneteenth Flyer Musician

65th Annual SF Juneteenth Celebration Commemorates the 150th Anniversary

of the Emancipation Proclamation

“The Journey Continues”

Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day, Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day, is a holiday in the United States that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in June 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, and is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in most states.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration among African Americans across the country commemorating the announcement of the end of slavery in the United States. It has been an African American tradition since the late 19th century. Economic and cultural forces caused a decline in Juneteenth celebrations beginning in the early 20th century. The Depression forced many African Americans off farms and into the cities to find work. In these urban environments, employers were less eager to grant leaves to celebrate this date. July 4th was already established as an Independence Day Holiday, and a rise in patriotism among African Americans steered more toward this celebration. The Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s yielded both positive and negative results for the Juneteenth celebrations. While it pulled many of the African American youth away and into the struggle for racial equality, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors. Again in 1968, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through the Poor Peoples March to Washington, D.C. Rev. Ralph Abernathy called for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor. Many of these attendees returned home and initiated Juneteenth celebrations in areas previously absent of such activity. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Juneteenth continued to enjoy a growing interest from communities and organizations throughout the country as African Americans have an interest to see that the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten. Many see roots tying back to Texas soil from which all remaining American slaves were finally granted their freedom.



Of course, California is unique, vital, and not like any other state. And San Francisco’s Juneteenth celebration is masterfully in the hands of Arnold Townsend, Chairman of the SF Juneteenth; Rachel Townsend is the SF Juneteenth Coordinator; and Shelly Tatum is Juneteenth Entertainment Producer.

This Boulevardier met Shelly in May, he gave me a ride downtown, San Francisco style. Shelly is a true Boulevardier, and an ebullient San Franciscan. Hence, this post! There’s only one Shelly and here is why, in his own words:

“I am an African American San Francisco native, born in the Bayview Hunter’s Point district. I have lived throughout this beautiful city where I still reside. In my community, and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, I am liked, known and well respected.”

“I am a self-employed entrepreneur and have an urban online marketing company, Shelly Tatum Presents that reaches the African American demographic throughout Northern California. My online network team connects with over a million people nationwide.  I’ve promoted concerts and special events throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area. I was also the first to bring hip-hop concerts to San Francisco, and the first African American to rent out the San Francisco Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall to co-produce the first jazz concert. I have advertised for major concert and Theatre companies such as Live Nation, AEG Live, SHN, A.C.T., Tyler Perry and others. My online marketing network has helped raise campaign funds for local, state, and federal elected officials.”


The one & only Shelly Tatum, photograph by Ruth “Stormy” Jordan


The relationship between Juneteenth and the City of San Francisco dates back to 1951, Dr. Wesley Johnson Sr. invited the Bay Area’s African American community to celebrate a June 19th celebration at the Texas playhouse on Fillmore Street, a popular lounge he owned.  The first parade was led by Johnson and the former San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr.  At that first parade, they rode out on white horses, wearing Stetson cowboy hats.  The community businesses and residents enthusiastically supported that first Juneteenth celebration and it quickly become a much-anticipated date on the summer calendar.  Many people in the parade were proud and pleased to be involved in celebrating the freedom of African Americans in this country.

Today the historic San Francisco Juneteenth is one of the largest African American celebrations in California and its sole purpose is for historical awareness, building self-esteem with our youth, connecting organizations with the community and providing opportunity for African American vendors to market their business and showcase their craft.

The San Francisco Juneteenth Festival  Committee is committed  to continue the historical tradition of our ancestors by celebrating this holiday to nurture and facilitate the empowerment of our community through education, partnerships, and interaction with community resources that our committed to community enrichment.


San Francisco, CA (January, 2015) – The San Francisco Juneteenth Committee invites you to attend the 65th Annual SF Juneteenth festival and Honor Roll Celebration Parade. The Juneteenth festival will take place in the historic Fillmore District, Fillmore St. between Sutter & Turk Streets, on Saturday, June 13, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Juneteenth Celebration activities include:
~3 stages of live musical performances from local artists.
~Parade and High School Honor Roll March with special appearances by Mayor Ed Lee and Board of Supervisors London Breed and Malia Cohen. Drill teams, horse groups, floats community organizations
~Health and Wellness Fair Free health screenings and healthy cooking demo’s by the Fit Farmer
~Technology Fair – Including a build your own APP contest
~Fashion Show by Mario B. Presents
~Classic Car and Motor Cycle show
~Arts & Crafts booths and a variety of food vendors
~Children’s activities including a Kids Zone with Live performances by Prescott Circus Theatre & Circus Bella, pony rides, a petting zoo, jumpers, carnival rides
This event is free and open to the public!



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