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Juneteenth Music Festival: A chance to come together

“Juneteenth, for me, means liberation"
Juneteenth Music Festival
Posted at 9:38 AM, Jun 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-19 11:45:04-04

DENVER — Juneteenth is on Sunday, but Denver has already been celebrating.

Welton Street is filled with vendors, artwork, and music as part of the annual Juneteenth Music Festival in Denver. Over 50,000 people are expected to attend the festival this year, which commemorates the day when the Emancipation Proclamation was announced by Union troops in Galveston, Texas.

One of many vendors at the Juneteenth Music Festival is Tony Bryant, who started T&D 5280 Barbecue with his family. Bryant started grilling when he was nine years old after his father showed him how. When cooking, Bryant feels like his father is still with him.

When asked about Juneteenth, Bryant said he "still doesn't feel free today...It's still too much harassment. Too much young Black men dying. And it's all unnecessary.”

Over a meal, Bryant believes people can come together.

“There's a difference in cooking. And there's a difference in cooking with love," Bryant said. “We're all human, and we're all only skin deep. You cut me here and cut you there and you see the same thing.”

Johnetta and Herbert Watkins of Smart Move Financial were at the festival with their grandchildren. The two hope to pass along lessons of love to the next generation.

"We want to teach him that, you have to love everybody. You know, it's not about the color," said Johnetta.

While at the festival, Tamara Hayward who was volunteering her time explained some of the negative experiences she has had over the course of her life.

“Oppression is still here, racism is very real still... I'm just gonna be very candid, I am a business owner. I have experienced a lot of pushback because of my skin color. I have been let go from a space because of my skin color. In school growing up, I grew up in an all-white school district, me and my brother with only two black kids in the whole school district. And my teacher called me buckwheat," Hayward said. “We are not where our experiences are. And it doesn't have to stop us. It doesn't have to set us back.”

Denver7 is a proud sponsor of the Juneteenth Music Festival, and our own Micah Smith is one of the emcees. The festival continues Sunday.