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CNN Live Event/Special

Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 19, 2022 - 21:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we come back a message from our former First Lady Michelle Obama and country music superstar Mickey Guyton in a performance you don't want to miss.

And later, Jill Scott brings us a little spoken word. Plus, Bell Biv DeVoe and Earth Wind and Fire up the Hollywood Bowl.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome back to the Juneteenth Celebration for Freedom. Here to introduce our next performance, Marsai Martin.

MARSAI MARTIN, AMERICAN ACTRESS: What's up? What's up, black people (ph)? What's up (INAUDIBLE). All right. OK. As a black artist, boldly taking up space within country music, this next singer has served as a reminder of the influence black people have had and continue to have across all musical genres. Last year, she became the first black woman to host the Academy of Country Music Awards and started this year singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl. Tonight, she's blessing us with her phenomenal talent, it is my pleasure to introduce Mickey Guyton.




MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER U.S. FIRST LADY: Happy Juneteenth everybody. This is a day of power, a chance to celebrate our history, our triumphs and our resilience in the face of struggle. It's about coming together and celebrating the generations before us who reached for progress. Those who helped build this country with their bare hands, those who marched and protested those who scraped and clawed so that we might have a voice and a vote.

This November, we'll be electing the folks who make critical decisions in our communities, decisions about our healthcare and our schools, the way our streets are policed, the very personal decisions we make about our bodies. And the truth is, in many cases, most of the officials on the ballot won't even be serving in DC, they'll be serving down the street at your city hall, or in your state house, or your school board.

So, we can't sit this one out, because the outcome of these elections will have very real consequences on our lives. We've seen that over the past few months, and over the past few years. But when we vote, we can flex our power. We can elect leaders who align with our values. But before you can cast a ballot this fall, you've got to make sure you're registered.

Take a moment right now to check your registration status at and make sure that your friends, aunties and cousins do the same. It is the most important step you can take to make sure your voices heard in November. Thanks everybody.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will return with the Re-Collective Orchestra featuring a special performance from the Debbie Allen Dance Academy. And still to come, performances from Ne-Yo, Bell Biv DeVoe and the legendary Earth, Wind and Fire. It's Juneteenth, a global celebration for freedom.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now, Hollywood Bowl conductor Thomas Wilkins leads the Re-Collective Orchestra founded by Stephanie Matthews and Matt Jones. The Re-Collective features black musicians from 19 prominent orchestras across the country. They will be performing a piece by William Grant Still known as the dean of African American composers.

Still composed over 200 works and was the first African American to conduct a major orchestra in his own music. That orchestra was the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in 1936.

Following in the legacy of William Grant Still, black orchestral musicians, conductors and composers have been making an impact in this country for decades, and will continue for generations to come.

And now, please welcome the Re-Collective Orchestra conducted by Thomas Wilkins, performing William Grant Still's Whippoorwill's Shoes.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actor, director and dance icon Debbie Allen.

DEBBIE ALLEN, ACTRESS DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER: Thank you. Thank you so much. Oh, where's the T. Going to stand on the T. Black music as the stunning piece we just heard so beautifully demonstrates black music has the unique power to uplift us inspires, and most of all move us.

I'm from Texas, y'all. So I got to take a moment and say thank you to seeing the Live Nation Urban, the L.A. Phil, Jesse Collins Entertainment, for making this Juneteenth celebration, a marker for global freedom.

And so, now, it is my pleasure to introduce what you're about to see next, a wonderful reflection of black music and black movement in conversation. This work, startups, is composed by Jessie Montgomery. She is here with us tonight. Her music is played all over the world. The dance choreographed by Rasta Thomas for the young dancers of the Debbie Allen Dance Academy.

All to the incredible Re-Collective Orchestra, please welcome once again, the Re-Collective Orchestra and the Darach Ensemble.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please welcome, Olympic gymnast Jordan Chiles.

JORDAN CHILES, OLYMPIC GYMNAST: Wow, that was such an amazing performance. I just want to hear you guys give a huge round of applause again.


CHILES: I am so proud to be a black athlete. Why? Because black athletes are not just athletes. We are so much more, like the beautiful Debbie Allen Dance Academy dancers you just saw. Black athletes move with a distinct grace and power from Jackie Robinson to Muhammad Ali, Althea Gibson, to Serena Williams. Black athletes have played support sports history and broken down barriers, often at times in this country when simply daring to compete was seen as an act of dissent. Black athletes have strived to be the best even as they've strived to challenge injustice. They've entertained us even as they've made us think they may captivate us with their seemingly superhuman capabilities, but it's their humanity that truly makes them so inspiring.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time. I don't know where you come from. What you got going. What's in your heart. What's in your mind. What's in your body. What's in your soul. But then, it's time.

JEMELE HILL, SPORTS JOURNALIST: I mean black athletes much like black culture in America period is the thermometer. You know, we started the journey. My name is Jemele Hill and I cover the intersection between sports, race, culture and politics. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I only box mainly from livelihood. But I wouldn't advise no young men to box but go to school, get his education be a doctor, be a lawyer, be a scientist, feel free to be a professor.


HILL: There is such a long very storied legacy of black athletes using those platforms and as an opportunity to either educate, inform or agitate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, this country stands for freedom, liberty, justice for all. And it's not happening for all right now.

HILL: The reason why I sports is sort of the perfect vehicle for black athletes to bring awareness to a lot of the problems and issues in our country is because sports is one of the few things we do together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want these kids over here, these kids over here and all the kids in this city understand that this is something because we care about their future.


HILL: We've seen a steady progression into how black athletes have navigated and move. At first it was about OK, just let us play. The next stage is ownership and not just ownership of teams but ownership of you yourself as a brand. Because they not only want to own their brand, they want to own their story. We have to be willing to challenge the structures and the systems that already have been designed against us and create a new system within that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After the break of live performance from R&B sensation, Khalid. Plus, a special performance from Jill Scott and later Billy Porter takes the stage. And still to come, a phrase break like no other with Michelle Williams, Mary Mary and Anthony Hamilton.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please welcome Gabourey Sidibe.



SIDIBE: Hi. OK, I'll do my job now. OK, with everything going on in the world we deserve to take tonight to celebrate all that we've overcome and created. So next on stage is a trendsetting and dominant force in today's R&B. And you can tell he's just getting started here with "Talk" is Khalid.


KHALID: What's up. (KHALID, "TALK")

SIDIBE: Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Black Thought.

BLACK THOUGHT: Black creativity comes in so many forms and it's rare to see an artists with natural gifts for so many of them. That's what makes my friends so special. They here with a powerful message and poignant poetic words is Jill Scott.



JILL SCOTT, SINGER AND SONGWRITER: I found three definitions for agitation. The first is a state of anxiety or nervous, excitement. The second, the action of briskly stirring, or disturbing something. And the third, the action of arousing public concern about an issue and pressing for action on it.

I wrote a poem and it's called Agitation Definition Number Three.

Oh, it's Juneteenth. My freedoms are afforded to me. So freedom is what I will hunt. And freedom is what I will speak. My frustrations are overwhelming now. My giving hand has become stranger to me. I'm increasingly numb to just shouting. Hands high in the place to be. Passed the plate children. Pass the plate elders. Pass the plate most regularly. Pastor, pastor can you pray it, please, pass the plate to me? Can I get a ride to my job in your Mercedes, ain't it you who's supposed to be guiding the sheep? I can't breathe and I can barely sleep. They show 'em. Can you hear the siren sing? Can't you see the blood on the streets? Gun laws barely budged at all, ain't you go rally to peace. Ain't you go send the babies free to an HBCU for their law degree. Can you see I-T-H-E for me?

Agitation Definition Number Three. We keep giving you money, ways to change systemically. You collect so many things but justice keeps eluding you make me weak. Agitation Definition Number Three. This is a critique. Agitation Definition Number Three. This is a call for all y'all seems like you're in cahoots to me. Strategy, action, walk into who you claim you be and lead. Agitation Definition Number Three lead. Agitation Definition Number Three, lead. Lead.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we come back, an unforgettable performance from the ever fabulous Billy Porter, Bell Biv DeVoe are sure to get you up out of your seats. And later, the legendary elements Earth, Wind & Fire take the stage. It's Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please welcome comedian, producer, actress, and activist Amanda seals. AMANDA SEALES, COMEDIAN AND ACTRESS: He's a legend on the stage on the screen and on the red carpet. Tonight, this Grammy Emmy and two time Tony Award winner is letting the children know what time it is for Juneteenth and prime, please welcome the incomparable Billy Porter.





BILLY PORTER: Happy Juneteenth, everybody. God bless you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bell Biv DeVoe is coming up next. And still to come, an electrifying performance by Earth, Wind & Fire.