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CNN Live Event/Special

Juneteenth: A Global Celebration Of Freedom. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 19, 2023 - 20:00   ET



VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, we've seen the rehearsals. We know what's coming. People at home, don't know what's coming. Get your Kleenex. Be ready to cry a little bit but --

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Get your tennis shoes out because we're about to get down.

JONES: And get ready to dance. We are going to laugh, we are going to cry. We are going to be dancing through the whole thing.

SIDNER: All the things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, we acknowledge Juneteenth as a global celebration for freedom.

Now a national holiday, Juneteenth is the direct result of centuries of resistance and revolution by Black people leading a fight for their liberation.

In 1861, tension between the North and the South reached its breaking point over slavery and statehood, and the Civil War began.

On January 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring that all people held as slaves within the Confederate-controlled states were now free. The Proclamation also granted Black men access into a struggling Union Army.

By the end of the war, more than 200,000 Black soldiers known as the United States Colored Troops had enlisted, becoming instrumental to the union's victory.

The Civil War officially ended in April of 1865, but it wasn't until June 19th of that year, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation that thousands of colored troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, alongside Major General Gordon Granger to read General Order Number 3, informing the last enslaved Black people that they were now free. That day would become the true marker of freedom in America.

In 2021, Juneteenth, also called Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day and Black Independence Day became an official federal holiday sparking a global celebration.

On this day, we honor the resilience, ingenuity, and determination it took for Black people to take hold of the very essence of what it means to be in American.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here to lead us in the singing of the Black national anthem, please welcome gospel music legend, Kirk Franklin

KIRK FRANKLIN, SINGER: Brothers and sisters, let's get up on our feet together y'all. Come on let's make this thing real. Make it real with us. Come on. Shake.

(GROUP singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing.")

FRANKLIN: Let it ring.

Let us rejoice.

Come on, let me hear you, family. Come on.


As a rolling sea.

Come on, I want everybody to do it for me.

You remember this come on.

Come on, sing.

That is my tune, y'all.

To victory.

I want you to clap, women, like you're in church like this.

Come on, everybody. Everybody clap like this. How are you all doing out there?


To all my brothers out there. To my sisters in the struggle, come on.

To that fight.

To victory.

To victory as one.


With performances by Kirk Franklin, Chloe, Miguel, SWV, Charlie Wilson.


Coi Leray, Mike Phillips, Big Freedia, Davido, Nelly, Hank of Tank and the Bangas, Jodeci, and Adam Blackstone and BBE All-Star Band, and special appearances by President Joe Biden and First Lady Joe Biden; Vice President Kamala Harris, Amir Questlove Thompson, Muni Long, Jimmy Jam, and Romeo.

And now please welcome back, Kirk Franklin.

FRANKLIN: I want to say to all my brothers and sisters, I want you to know that you are so special and you are so called to this very moment that you are loved at this present state and alive to be able to know that even though what we've gone through has been so painful, your future is so bright, your future is so big, your future is so beautiful, and if God be for you who can be against you?

I need to hear you make some noise about that right now.


FRANKLIN: Now listen, I want to know, can you just get your worship on with your boy one more time?


FRANKLIN: I said can you get your church over to your boy one more time? Did nobody tell you what to choose? Get up on your feet. Get up on your feet.

Come on, come on. I want to talk to you right now.

I know you've got some questions about what you're going through. Let's talk about it.

(GROUP singing "All Things.")

FRANKLIN: In fact, if you're with us out there, let me hear you make some noise.


FRANKLIN: I need a witness out here. I need a witness. Come on, one more time. One more time.


FRANKLIN: I want to see everybody rock with me. I want to see everybody rock with me like this. Come on. I want you to do it like you know you're cute, too. Rock with me. Rock with me and shake.


FRANKLIN: Say it. Say it again now. What are you saying now?

What are we talking about?

Church, what are we talking about?

Say it again? Let me hear you say --

Ain't that the truth?

Church, church. One more time, one more time.

Say it again now.


(GROUP singing "Melodies from Heaven.")

FRANKLIN: Where my time is at? Come on tell me. Come on, come on. Ladies --


Shake it up. Shake it up.

Come on. Come on. Come on. Come on.

Take it up. Shake it up.

Sing it with --

Melody. Hands up in the air, come on. Hands up in the air, Los Angeles. Sing it with me, say melody.


You're not singing it like you're a big choir. I want you to sound like you come to that old school church. Come on, LA. Sing it with me. Say melody.

I want to see some sweat. I wouldn't say some jerry curl sweat on that forehead like you're the hot church. Melody.

One more time. One more time. I want you to sing it like your grandma and my grandma were church fans with Martin Luther King on the cover.



ANNOUNCER: Our celebration continues with performances by Miguel, SWV, and Nelly.

Plus, a special message from Vice President Kamala Harris.

And still to come, Charlie Wilson takes the stage.




ANNOUNCER: Juneteenth is an American story where the last remaining slaves of the Confederacy were officially set free two years after Emancipation. After that day, many newly freed men and women traveled to what is recognized as the Emancipation Trail, a route that led them directly from Galveston to the heart of a newly developing city in Texas called Houston.

Jack Yates, a formerly enslaved and educated Black man was among the free people who settled in Houston. Within the first year of his arrival, Yates started the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church to be a safe place for Black folks to learn, gather, and build.

JACKIE BOSTIC, YATES GREAT GRANDDAUGHTER: Reverend Yates was a community leader, a visionary and he helped to ensure that the Houston area had a viable community of Black citizens that had their own businesses, had their own homes and their own institutions.

LOU MCELROY, PASTOR, ANTIOCH MISSIONARY: This area was Houston's Black Wall Street, you had blacksmiths. You had folks that ran printing shops. You saw Blacks elected to public office.

And so this is this drive that's coming out of slavery and beating the challenges that were set before them.

ANNOUNCER: As Freedmen Town and others surrounding Black neighborhoods began to take shape, Yates set his sights on leading a community effort to purchase land. That land became Emancipation Park, serving as a hub for all freed Black people to congregate, organize, and celebrate Juneteenth for more than 150 years.

BOSTIC: It was bought by the formerly enslaved people. No one gave it to them. They had the imagination. They had the vision and they had a willingness to do what it took to own the land.

Emancipation Park is actually the first park that was bought and owned by citizens in the city of Houston. There was no other park period in the city of Houston in 1872 for anybody.

JACQUELINE BOSTIC-ELROY, YATES GREAT-GREAT-GRANDDAUGHTER: They wanted to be able to come together as a community, a broader community, and purchasing the park gave them that opportunity.

BOSTIC: They would dress up. They would get on their horses and their buggies celebrating their freedom. They were very proud of being freed.

ANNOUNCER: Today, Emancipation Park remains a historical site in the city of Houston and as new generations embrace its history, build new memories, and join in on the celebration of Juneteenth, its existence serves as a reminder of what is truly possible with freedom.

BOSTIC: We owe it not only to ourselves, but to our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren and to everybody around us to help us out to understand how important freedom is.


LA, make some noise. My name is Romeo from 93.5 KDAY Morning Show and yes, we've get a lot of special artists coming on stage, but coming to the stage right now, he is the best in the game. He ain't never changed.

Y'all better stand up to show some love for Miguel.

MIGUEL, SINGER: What's up, LA.


MIGUEL: Are we celebrating today or what?

(MIGUEL singing "Give it to Me.")


(MIGUEL singing "Sure Thing.")

MIGUEL: Love you, LA. Happy Juneteenth.

ANNOUNCER: Coming up, Vice President Kamala Harris joins us, followed by a special performance from the Divine 9 and later, Coi Leray and Jodeci take the stage when our Juneteenth Celebration For Freedom Continues.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome back to the global celebration for freedom. Here to celebrate Juneteenth, all the way from our nation's capital, the 49th vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good evening, everyone. Good evening. Good evening. And happy Juneteenth.

So tonight, with joy, we gather with friends and family to celebrate America's newest national holiday.


So when I served in the United States Senate, I was proud to co- sponsor a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. And as vice president, it was my honor to stand beside our President, Joe Biden, as he signed the legislation that finally made that dream a reality.


Today, Americans from all walks of life come together to celebrate Juneteenth, to honor black excellence, culture and community, to remember our nation's full history, and to celebrate one of our founding principles, the principle of freedom.


America is a promise. A promise of freedom, liberty and justice. The story of Juneteenth as we celebrate it is the story of our ongoing fight to realize America's promise, not for some, but for all.


So, as we gather tonight, let us remember the words of the great Coretta Scott King. The fight for civil rights must be fought and won with each generation. She reminds us that our freedoms will not be permanent unless we, in each generation, are vigilant to protect them.

So let us all stand together as Americans to teach and honor our history, to protect our liberty and to continue the fight for freedom. Thank you. May God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you. Thank you.


And now it is my honor as a proud HBCU graduate to welcome to the stage a group of incredible performers from our Divine Nine. Have a good evening.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Greek Theater, please welcome the fraternities and sororities of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, affectionately known by colleges and universities across the country as the Divine Nine. Collectively, they represent more than 100 years of unique brotherhood and sisterhood with a rich history and legacy of service that stretches far beyond the college yard. Today, they are here to celebrate the freedom of Juneteenth.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated 1906. The ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, 1908. The brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated 1911. The brothers of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated 1911. The ladies of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated 1913.

The brothers of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated 1914. The ladies of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated 1920. The ladies of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated 1922. The brothers of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Incorporated 1963.

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the National Pan-Hellenic Council, also known as the Divine Nine.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will return with Coi Leray. Plus, performances by Mike Phillips, Davido, Chloe, and Big Freedia. And still to come, the legendary Charlie Wilson. It's Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom.



OMAR TATE, CO-OWNER & CHEF: Food insecurity happens to anyone who simply can't reach it. Like if you can't reach food, then you are food insecure. You can be sitting on the mountain of money, but if you can't come down off that mountain and get yourself an onion, how you going to eat?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Renowned chefs Omar Tate and Cybille St. Aude- Tate have chosen to plant their food and their talents in the heart of West Philly on 48th Street.

CYBILLE ST. AUDE-TATE, CO-OWNER & CHEF: Honeysuckle Provisions is an Afrocentric grocery cafe. This area, it was very difficult to find like fresh produce, fresh ingredients, so this felt like the right place to be. Omar's mom was living in like, a couple of blocks away from here at the time, and I think it really hit -- close to home that she had to go pretty far to find produce to live. That was pretty obvious to us that we were needed and more stores and more places like us are needed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thousands of cities in the U.S. face the same access challenges as West Philly. In North Tulsa, Oklahoma, just a mile from historical black Wall Street, AJ Johnson, born and raised in the city, responded to the need by opening Oasis Fresh Market, Tulsa's first black owned grocery store in 50 years.

AJ JOHNSON, OWNER: There are $10 generals, but yet this is the first fresh and healthy access grocery store in North Tulsa.

C. TATE: We did a lot of market research and case studies before we kind of settled down to understand what our community needed. And what we found was that folks were literally leaving our community, leaving their community to go and find healthy food.

JOHNSON: If we were to overlay a U.S. map and highlight food deserts, the majority of the food deserts that exist in America, anywhere from 70 percent to 80 percent of that are black and brown communities. And then if you were on top of that to lay a map of the life expectancy for these communities, you would see that underserved communities, not just in Tulsa alone, but across the country, are dying because of that very shortage or lack of fresh and healthy access.

We might be free as a people, but if we're tied to an unhealthy diet or an unhealthy food system, are we truly free?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The legacy of disparity in America has created a problem that requires both policy change and united community work to solve.

O. TATE: I think there's a bit of a revolution happening where these communities, these neighborhoods, us, we are either creating or demanding fresh access to foods.

JOHNSON: Really, we just want to meet the needs of our community where they are. That's the hope for Oasis. That's the hope for North Tulsa in Baltimore and Memphis and Atlanta and Chicago and L.A. and Dallas, is to bring that hope, is to bring that refuge, that safe place, shelter and serve people in a great way.

ROMEO, DJ & HOST OF "THE KDAY MORNING SHOW": We are all the way live on CNN L.A. When I say June, you say teenth. June.

ALL: Teenth.


ALL: Teenth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've already had Kurt Franken live on stage, but now we're about to bring someone that's soon to be legendary, and she's truly ready to run it up. So if you ready, give it up for Coi Leray.




COI LERAY, AMERICAN RAPPER: Happy Juneteenth, everybody. Thank you so much. I love you CNN. Album dropping, June 23rd. Go straight (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Up next, Jodeci takes the stage. And later, a spoken word performance from Tank of Tank and the Bangas. Plus, a special message from President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden when we return.



ROMEO: You know what it is. It's going down, man. It's Juneteenth, a global celebration for freedom. My name is Romeo from 935 KDAY. Give it up for DJ Ricky Watters. Hold it down on the one to two. But how many ladies love it when a man says come and talk to me? How about, how many ladies out there fainting if you are, give it up for Jodeci.