Every 19th June for over 150 years, African Americans across the US have celebrated freedom from slavery.
Juneteenth (also known as Emancipation Day, Juneteenth Independence Day and Black Independence Day) commemorates the day in 1865 when General Gordon Granger and his crew of union soldiers rode into the city of Galveston, Texas. The purpose of their visit was to announce to enslaved African Americans that the Civil War had ended and to notify them that they'd actually been free for more than 2 years prior.
Despite President Abraham Lincoln signing his Emancipation Proclamation back in January 1863, lawless Texan plantation owners had put up a fight. Many were waiting until after harvest to break the news. While others had no plans to say anything to their enslaved workers at all! In the end, union soldiers had to physically go to the plantations and read the Emancipation Proclamation in order to convince those same workers it was time to leave let alone that it was even real.
Off the back of Granger's freedom speech on 19th June, annual celebrations began picking up pace across the country. In the years that would follow, Junteenth's traditionally involved everything from picnics, rodeos and fishing, to street fairs, cookouts, blues festivals and Miss Juneteenth contests.
Juneteenth was a call for African American families to come together, put on their best clothes and celebrate, as much as it became a day to educate. What started with political rallies to give voting instructions to newly freed slaves, evolved into dedicated exhibitions and lectures on African American history. People retold stories, plays were performed, music was made, traditional songs like “Swing Low, Sweet Charity” were sung, verses from the likes of Angela Davis and James Baldwin were shared - and most of all, a sense of heritage and Pride was ignited within Black youth.
Since the late 1800s, Black people have celebrated Juneteenth. It marks the day that they found out they had earned their freedom and pays homage to the work their ancestors put in to get it. But their fight was not over. African American's might have been free from slavery, but they were now exposed to the 13th Amendment, endless injustice, police brutality, systematic oppression and a wave of constant fear.
As we speak, the streets are filled with peaceful protests. The events of 2020 have sparked a much-needed uprising, and while Juneteenth may still not be a federal holiday, companies are finally putting their money where their mouth is. Confederate statues are coming down, and world leaders (for the most part) are starting to listen.
Change is coming, and you can trust that during the dark and challenging times; that's when those with the most powerful voices thrive.
Over history and out of strife, Black DJs, musicians, beat-poets, singers, producers and cultural pioneers have brought us jazz, the blues, reggae, soul, funk, techno, house and hip hop. They healed our soul when we needed it most, and not only that - their music taught us how to move together. They paved the way for the next generation to follow, then collectively flexed the power that music and movement have to bridge gaps, and unify dramatically different communities across dancefloors worldwide.
Juneteenth is poignant for Defected. The day sees the debut of a very special song called 'Testify' by Brooklyn artist DAVIE. Speaking on his gospel-infused, joyous record and the significance of its release DAVIE waxes lyrical "For me, it's beautiful that a very celebratory song like 'Testify' is coming out on the day (Juneteenth). I am black, and I have so much work to do to fight systemic oppression, but we also have so much to celebrate. It's the perfect song to dance, clap, jump and let go!"
This Juneteenth, Defected will be celebrating by raising money for Color Of Change during the launch of our 3-week virtual new era virtual clubbing experience Defected WWWorldwide.
Previously our audiences raised over $1.2 million (including Google matching the amount raised) for the WHO COVID-19 Response Fund during our 9-week Virtual Festival series.
Our forthcoming Defected WWWorldwide live streams will run 3 consecutive weeks in a row, and see each event hosting 3 virtual rooms of live sets from the top DJ's and most iconic parties on the planet.
To give you a hint of what's to come, the line-up for Glitterbox x Pride on 26th June is a doozy. Glitterbox will hold down Room 1 with the likes of The Shapeshifters and Horse Meat Disco. New York's House of Yes will take over Room 2 joined by Kiddy Smile and Melvo Baptiste with more to be announced, while Brighton Pride will usher in Fat Tony, Jodie Harsh and more behind the decks. All this followed up by Defected Ibiza on 3rd July.
Throughout Defected WWWorldwide, the label will be partnering with charities to encourage donations suitable for each one. From LGBTQ+ charities for Pride, to working with environmental welfare in Ibiza for 3rd July. The exact charities will be announced in due course.
On Juneteenth, dancers and viewers from across the globe are invited to tune in to Twitch. They will be invited alongside Defected to donate money to Color Of Change, with a donation button appearing right alongside the stream.
Color Of Change is America's largest online racial justice organization, led by its 1.7m members, who campaign within corporations and government to create a less hostile environment for Black people in the USA. Since 1999, the mantra and ethics of Defected has remained all-inclusive, we condemn prejudice in all forms, and stand in solidarity with all Black members of the community.
The time will come when we're on a dancefloor together again, but in the downtime, let's continue to strengthen our scene, educate ourselves about the roots behind what we love and share the love with one another.
To learn more about Color Of Change or make your own donation, visit: colorofchange.org
Or join us on Twitch on Friday 19th, 7-10pm BST for Defected WWWorldwide with Louie Vega, The Martinez Brothers & Friends. You will find a button to donate to Color Of Change appearing throughout the stream. twitch.tv/defectedrecordsmusic