Juneteenth: A Celebration of African Culture, Music, and Cuisine

  • Historic Huguenot Street 81 Huguenot Street New Paltz, NY, 12561 United States

Join us on Saturday, June 17, on the DuBois Fort lawn for a celebration of African culture, music, and cuisine in honor of Juneteenth, or June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, carrying news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved had been freed. 

This special event will be catered by Chef Brandon Walker, Culinary Institute of America graduate and owner of Essie’s Restaurant in Poughkeepsie. Chef Walker's cuisine takes inspiration from his American South and Caribbean heritage, and incorporates modern cooking techniques and local seasonal ingredients. He will be consulting with culinary historian Michael W. Twitty on the evening's menu. Author of The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South (HarperCollins, August 2017), Mr. Twitty is a food writer, independent scholar, and historical interpreter whose work preserves and promotes African American foodways, its parent traditions in Africa, and its legacy in the food culture of the American South.

Dynamic musician and storyteller Kim Harris will perform songs of joy, hope, and freedom, combining a strong folk and gospel legacy with classical, rock, and pop influences. Harris has earned wide acclaim for her contributions to the historical and educational knowledge base on the Underground Railroad and the modern civil rights movement. More than just a singer/songwriter, she is an educator, interpreter of history, and cultural advocate.

Terry James, Board Member of the Slave Dwelling Project, will speak about the meaning of Juneteenth while dressed in his reenactment uniform of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, one of the first official African American units in the United States during the Civil War. As a living historian and member of the Slave Dwelling Project, James has slept, shackled, in over 40 slave dwellings to commemorate the enslaved ancestors who survived the Middle Passage, and to bring awareness to the existence of historic slave dwellings, their history, and their need for preservation.

Following the event, Mr. James will once again spend the night in a Huguenot Street slave cellar as he did in September 2016. This time, he will share the cellar with #BlackStoriesMatter writers from the TMI Project, a non-profit organization that offers transformative memoir and monologue writing workshops and performances that invite storytellers and audience members to explore new perspectives. Following their overnight stay on Huguenot Street, participants will engage in a series of 10 writing workshops to craft monologues inspired by their lives and their experience on Huguenot Street. They will perform these monologues publicly in the fall.

Sponsored by a Humanities New York Action Grant.

This event is part of New York State's Path Through History Weekend.