MEMPHIS, Tenn. — This coming weekend, people across the Mid-South will be celebrating Juneteenth, which is on June 19.
The day celebrates the end of slavery in America. This year’s festival will be at the Health Sciences Park formerly known as Forrest Park for Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
“Now we want to change the way people feel about Memphis and way they feel about this park,” said Telisa Franklin, the President of the Memphis Juneteenth Festival.
The park was home to a statue of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Four years ago, that statue came down and last week his remains were relocated to a new resting place as part of a settlement with the Forrest family.
It’s the third time organizers say they’ve moved the location of the festival since it started 28 years ago.
“We wanted to make that next move a move of healing,” Franklin said.
Last year’s event was virtual due to COVID. So being able to come together as one means a lot to organizers who say it’s equally important to remember the why of this day.
They’ve added new exhibits showcasing the history of Juneteenth which celebrates the day the final slaves learned of their freedom nearly three years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.
“We don’t want people to forget the history of Nathan Bedford Forrest, but we definitely want you to embrace the new, embrace you belong here. You should enjoy this park,” Franklin said.
It’s a day to mark freedom and moving forward.
“This one park where we as black people couldn’t even walk in this park. This one park where black people and white people couldn’t even commune together in a happy place. On June 19, 2021 it’s our Independence Day at that park in Memphis,” Franklin said.