After lockdown and restriction brought on by the global health pandemic, the idea of being “outside” renders an air of newfound freedom for many. Resumed travel, time with loved ones, and re-invigorated event attendance all stand as signposts of hope after a difficult period of isolation. While we all long for semblances of normalcy, for Black folx, freedom of existence–let alone movement–was (and is) complex. Given the legacies of Jim Crow, over-policing, and state violence, Black folx existing, moving, loving, and experiencing Black joy whether inside our homes or out in these streets is an act of resistance.
This photo essay seeks to depict the power of Black folx holding space “outside”. In this spirit, these photos capture moments at a Juneteenth celebration in Hartford, CT. Now a national holiday, Juneteenth (June 19th) celebrates the day in which enslaved Black folk in Texas received word of their freedom more than two years after the signing of the emancipation proclamation in 1863. This annual jubilee, celebrated for generations in the south long before its more national recognition, embodies the essence of Black freedom. With music, food, and fellowship, Juneteenth proclaims that despite the ongoing assaults, we are surviving. We here. We in this piece. More importantly, we outside.
Celebrating Black Joy
This dancer’s face says it all. Moving our bodies and being outside and in community with one another is about enacting and sharing Black joy.
On the Shoulders of Giants
Babies on shoulders was a key theme at this Jubilee. Families made sure that little ones were able to see the action and actively participate in the day’s festivities.
A Celebration of Black Music
What is a Black gathering without good music? This celebration featured the rhythmic drum beats of Friendz World Music among other musicians, DJs, and artists. You couldn’t help but sway your hips to these beautiful Black sounds.
The Youth are the Truth
Members of the group The Gifted Onez were kicking our behinds and taking names with their explosive hip-hop dance moves and energetic raps and freestyles.
Black Artists Matter
Black art has always been central to our survival and was on full display at the event. Featured here are 15-year-old Gabby of Gabby Gumdrop Designs and Ladon of Melanin Currency.
Black Minds Matter
These women are here to tell the world that our minds are just as important as our bodies. The owner of Spanish Moss Books sells gently used books from her own extensive collection to share her love of reading with the world. Laurie (on the right) is a holistic health and wellness coach whose goal is to help people center and reduce stress and anxiety.
In the words of the brilliant Audre Lorde, “Caring for ourselves is not self-indulgence”. In a world where our defenses must stay up to survive and in a country literally built on the backs of Black labor, we must rest!