Jazz musician kicks off Juneteenth events

Ron Myers
The Rev. Ronald V. Myers will kick off the The Juneteenth Jazz and Arts Festival
at 1 p.m. Friday at Smokehouse Bob's Bar-B-Que.
Submitted Photo

June 9, 2011
By Liberty Walker
Muskogee Phoenix News

The Rev. Ronald V. Myers is excited to return to Muskogee this weekend.

"It’s an honor to come to Muskogee," said Myers, a jazz artist. "I look forward to it every year."

Myers said he comes to Muskogee for the Juneteenth Celebration from his home in Mississippi to honor the legacy of Jay McShann by participating in the Juneteenth Jazz and Arts Festival.

McShann, a singer from Muskogee, was born in the early 1900s. McShann was a big band leader who is said to have helped shape the Kansas City sound.

Juneteenth is considered by some to be America’s second independence day.

General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, and read an order, giving slaves freedom two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.

Juneteenth was declared a holiday in Oklahoma in 1984. The National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign continues to work to establish Juneteenth as a national holiday.

The Muskogee Juneteenth Celebration is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 19 in Elliot Park on Altamont Street, north of Sadler Arts Academy.

The celebration is free to the public and will have choirs, poetry readings and entertainment by blues singer Selby Minner.

Newton says the Muskogee Juneteenth Celebration started at Smokehouse Bob's when a group of people were talking about June 19 and about the people of Muskogee not knowing about Juneteenth.

This will be the fourth year for the Juneteenth Celebration and the third year for the Jazz and Arts Festival.

"Muskogee is the only Juneteenth Celebration that does everything for free," Newton said. "When I went to the annual Juneteenth congress, we were out eating and brainstorming. When I told them everything was for free they asked, 'Well, how do you make money?' It's not about making money. It's to educate and preserve African American history."

Juneteenth will be sharing the day with another holiday this year.

"It's on Father's Day, so bring a father to the park and let's celebrate," Newton said.

The celebration on Father's Day also will begin a campaign to raise prostate cancer awareness.

Newton said they are working with oncologists in town so men can get a prostate exam done cheaply during the month of September.

To learn more about the history of the event: www.juneteenthoklahoma.com.

If you go

WHAT: Muskogee Juneteenth Jazz & Arts Festival.

WHERE: Smokehouse Bob's Bar-B-Que, 1100 N. 11th St.

WHEN: 1 to 3 p.m. Friday.

ADMISSION: Free. Donations are appreciated.

INFORMATION: Wilma Newton, (918) 781-9248.

If you go

WHAT: Muskogee Juneteenth Celebration

WHERE: Elliot Park, on Altamont Street, north of Sadler Arts Academy.

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 19.


INFORMATION: Wilma Newton, (918) 781-9248.

Reach Liberty Walker at (918) 684-2920 or walkerls@nsuok.edu.


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