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✊🏾 Where to celebrate Juneteenth this weekend



Juneteenth In Denver

In May of this year, Colorado formally acknowledged June 19 (or “Juneteenth” as it’s better known) as an official state holiday. In June of last year, President Joe Biden marked Juneteenth as a federal holiday. And while Mayor Hancock also officially marked the day as a commemorative holiday for the city in 2021, Denver’s recognition of the historical day goes waaay back.

Five Points Juneteenth Parade 1993. [Credit: Denver Public Library Special Collections]

A Little History
June 19 commemorates the day more than 150 years ago when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, were finally made aware (two years late!) of the Emancipation Proclamation. Every year after that, the date was celebrated in remembrance of the end of slavery.

According to records at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library in Five Points, a Texas man named Otha P. Rice Sr. brought the tradition with him to Colorado in the 1950s. He eventually opened a bar, and it’s believed Denver’s first ever Juneteenth celebration was held there in 1966. By 1983, an estimated 60,000 people showed up for the festivities. 

Five Points Business Association’s Juneteenth program cover 1994. [Denver Public Library Special Collections]

Celebrating Today
The last 50-plus years of planning Denver Juneteenth parties brought us our now iconic annual Juneteenth Music Festival in 2012. The free, two-day festival takes place in Five Points and includes a parade, national music headliners, and hundreds of street vendors selling Juneteenth food and wares. Get your tickets 👈

Other Festivities

Juneteenth Roll
What: A roller skating party to raise funds for YouthSeen, a nonprofit supporting LGBTQ+ youth.
When: Friday, June 17, 7 p.m.-2 a.m.
Where: Tracks / ReelWorks, 3500 Walnut StreetCost: $10

Juneteenth Jazz Concert
What: A live jazz performance from acclaimed saxophonist Javon Jackson, featuring Nikki Giovanni.
Friday, June 17, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, 119 Park Ave WCost: $30-$75
Poetry and Dance
What: A panel and keynote presentation from Nikki Giovanni, a renowned Black poet, writer, activist, and educator.
Saturday, June 18, 1-5 p.m.Where: Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, 119 Park Ave W
Cost: $30

Black Pride
What: This annual celebration of Black and queer culture coincides with Juneteenth for two weekends of pride events.
When: June 17-19Where: Varies
Cost: Varies


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🌈 The Rainbow Family is headed for Craig: The group has selected a remote area of Routt National Forest (about 3.5 hours northwest of Denver) for its 50th annual Rainbow Gathering of the Tribes. The group’s very first get-together was outside Granby in 1972. [CO Sun]

  • 🔎 Take a closer look: While the group promises to be cognizant of protecting the water and lands where they gather, the event isn’t actually legal. Talk of its return to Colorado has been controversial. So a few months ago, we spoke with one longtime attendee of the gatherings to hear his side of the story. [City Cast Denver]

✏️ Denver school board appoints new member: After nine rounds of voting and a heated debate, DPS board members officially appointed family law attorney Charmaine Lindsay to fill the board’s vacant seat in a 4-2 vote. Tensions have been running high among members over the last two years, and the board said Lindsay’s formal training in mediation was a big selling point. [Chalkbeat]

🚲 Did you miss your chance at an e-bike rebate? Another shot is coming your way. Denver has announced plans to launch a second round of e-bike rebates after the massive success of its first event. Applications are expected to open shortly after July 4. And now, the state is making plans for a large-scale e-bike rebate program of its own sometime next year. [CO Sun]


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Could Commerce City Lose Its Whole School District?

“3,000 students who live in Commerce City don’t go to school in Adams 14. And for a district that has less than 7,000 students right now, that’s a lot.” — Yesenia Robles

After years of low test scores, concerns of gang issues, and accusations of discrimination against Spanish-speaking students, a new state-mandated “reorganization” order could seal the fate of the Adams 14 school district.  Schools may close and thousands of students could be forced to attend classes outside their community.

Today on the show, host Bree Davies talks to Chalkbeat reporter Yesenia Robles about where the school district sits now, how it got to such a dire state, and where the people of Commerce City stand when it comes to their much-maligned schools.

So You Think You Know Denver?

🕵️ Where in Denver am I?

OK, friends. I want to play a game with you. I’ll share an obscure photo taken somewhere in the Denver metro, and you have to guess where it is. If you’re among the first to guess right, you’ll get a big, shiny shoutout in the newsletter.

Let’s start with something relatively easy … Can you tell where this 👆 photo was taken? Reply to this email if you think you know!

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