Tulsa hosted a Juneteenth block party on Saturday to commemorate the 155th anniversary of the day slavery was abolished in the U.S. and celebrate the African American communities in Tulsa and around the country.
Featuring musical performances, DJ sets and in-depth conversations, the event included appearances from Watchmen creator Damon Lindelof, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Sophia Bush, Clemency actress Alfre Woodard, NBA player Russell Westbrook, documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson and The Bachelorette star Mike Johnson, among others.
Woodard gave a lengthy speech where she expressed the urgency of Juneteenth and the Black Lives Matter movement. “Complacency is not an option now,” said the actress. “No one surrenders.” She spoke of the resilience of the Black community, emphasizing that they know “how to laugh and cry at the same time, how to weep and how to jump for joy. … That’s how complicated and complex we are.”
Harris, who noted that this is a “day to remember the millions,” appeared along with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Karine Jean-Pierre, senior advisor to Joe Biden. The event also included a conversation between Westbrook and Nelson about their upcoming docuseries about the Tulsa race massacre, Terror in Tulsa, and an interview with Lindelof.
Bush also addressed viewers, sharing that her hope moving forward is for Juneteenth to be recognized “as the actual American independence day.” She said, “To me this is one of the best days in history.”
“Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom and the unyielding strength of Black Americans even in the face of the evils of slavery,” said Damion Shade, criminal policy analyst and co-emcee of the Tulsa Block Party, in a statement prior to the celebration. “With this event we hope to honor this history as well as the remarkable legacy of Black Wall Street which persists in the businesses, artists and the spirit of Black excellence in Greenwood and throughout Tulsa today.”
Organized by the Tulsa Office of Film, Music, Arts & Culture and other local companies, the block party physically took place on the ground in Tulsa and was live-cast on Instagram and the Tulsa Block Party website at the same time as Trump’s campaign rally in the city.
View the Juneteenth Block Party celebration below.