West Potomac Park transformed into a pop-up church this weekend to celebrate Juneteenth.
It was a fitting setting for the holiday because church was an important place to enslaved people in Texas and likely a place where they would have heard about the two-year old federal order that freed them.
An attendee at the pop-up church, Emanuel Thurogood, shared how important church was to an enslaved person.
“The lady said that when she was in the fields working, her heart was in the house of prayer, in the church,” Thurogood said.
He brought his family from Virginia Beach for the religious observation.
“It’s fulfillment because, what’s going on in the world today, all the shootings and killings and different things, we still can come together and worship a higher power,” Thurogood said.
The Juneteenth celebrations honored the old ways, but also included bands and DJs, which helped a wider audience appreciate traditions.
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“That’s what we do — we bring the young people, bringing them in with the old. I mix quartet with a little hip-hop beat that brings both genres together,” D.J. Soul said.
The holiday brought together different music genres and people, who all observed the importance of Juneteenth.
“I’m traveling with the Voices of Fire Choir. They’re performing in this event, and I’m just excited to celebrate Juneteenth,” Mark Heinsman said.
“This is how it should’ve been all the time” L.A. Randall, a Freedom Plaza attendee, said. “I came here to celebrate with my people.”
In Bowie, Maryland, people were celebrating too, with music and togetherness at Allen Pond Park. The police and the Commission on Fathers, Men and Boys partnered to put on a Juneteenth and Father’s Day show.
“We thought that we could bring all of that together at one collaborative time in one big party, actually,” Robert Johnson, chair of the commission, said.
Juneteenth events happening in the D.C. area on Monday include a wreath laying at the American Civil War Memorial, a Loudoun County march and rare documents on display at the National Archives.