DARLINGTON, MD — Each year the Juneteenth celebration hosted by the Hosanna School Museum in Harford County has doubled in size. So organizers said they were preparing shuttle buses and off-site parking for the fourth annual affair since last year’s event attracted 2,400 people.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the celebration is now being held over two days and includes a remote portion. Friday’s virtual program includes a dance performance, storytelling and more. Saturday’s in-person event is called the Great Mask Giveaway, when organizers will distribute 1,000 African print masks.
“Normally we have a festival — a series of lectures, authors, book signings, costume interpreters, kids’ activities, dancers, singers, musicians — so we wanted to give people a taste of that, sort of like a Juneteenth variety show,” Dr. Iris Leigh Barnes, executive director of the Hosanna School Museum, said.
Friday will feature “edu-tainment” with African American performers, with singing, dancing, storytelling and a costume interpretation of Harriet Tubman among the offerings. The virtual program, which will be held on Zoom, is “jam-packed, so we want to keep it moving just like we do for our Juneteenth festival,” Barnes said.
People can register online for the virtual Juneteenth festivities.
“Juneteenth is important because it represents the official end of slavery in the United States,” Barnes said.
“It’s a very family friendly event,” she said of why she thinks the Hosanna School Museum’s Juneteenth festival has been so successful. “People are learning but at the same time they are being entertained. We’re not hitting them over the head with the information. They have an opportunity to engage with it, participate.”
Said Barnes: “We bring topnotch entertainers, presenters, authors.”
For two hours on Saturday, people can come to the museum to participate in the Great Mask Giveaway. Volunteers are donating Afro-centric masks. Organizers hope to have 500 to give away and 500 to sell.
“We’ll have a young fashion designer who has created some very beautiful” African masks, she said. Christaphine Bob-Ray, who owns Risen Regalia, will be sharing her wares.
Organizers also wanted to give people an opportunity to come to the Hosanna School Museum, which was built in 1867 for newly freed slaves. It was used as a schoolhouse until 1945.
“It’s important for us to realize that struggles continue; slavery didn’t just end,” Barnes said. “Freedom came in bits and pieces. It didn’t come all at once, and even once it did, there were apprenticeships and convict leasing, there was still Jim Crow and segregation.”
Added Barnes: “The Emancipation Proclamation was passed in January 1863, and in Maryland, emancipation wasn’t until November 1964 — it was almost two years later.”
For years, black people were blocked from owning land, getting certain jobs and living certain places.
Juneteenth is a chance to “celebrate the success, the perseverance,” Barnes said. “Last year was a big push of 400 years of perseverance, still standing, still strong, still achieving, being creative — we’re still here. It’s important to see and to recognize how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go.”
Juneteenth Festival Program
5–6 p.m. on Friday: A virtual film discussion event is sponsored by the Havre de Grace Cultural Center at the Opera House. People should watch the film “Just Mercy” on their own first. The Hosanna School Museum is cross-promoting the event.
6–7 p.m. on Friday: A variety of “edu-tainment” about Juneteenth is on tap at this virtual Juneteenth festival.
11 a.m.–1 p.m. Saturday: The Great Mask Giveaway will feature the opportunity to get African-print masks and go inside the Hosanna School Museum at 2424 Castleton Road, Darlington, MD 21034. Up to two masks will be given away per family, and additional masks can be purchased for $10. Proceeds will benefit the Harford Community Action Agency Food Bank and the Hosanna School Museum’s educational programming.
The rain date is 11 a.m.–1 p.m. on Saturday, June 27. Organizers will make a determination about weather by 7 a.m. Saturday and announce it on Hosanna’s website and Facebook page plus through eblast.
This article originally appeared on the Bel Air Patch