Why Juneteenth Matters: Artists, Activists, and More Weigh In

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

In honor of Juneteenth, Hyperallergic asked several arts professionals and creators to write about their relationship to the holiday.

Portraits of formerly enslaved Black Americans taken in 1937 Texas as part of the WPA.

All images courtesy the Library of Congress.

Hyperallergic invited several scholars, writers, and arts professionals to reflect on the importance of Juneteenth. Each featured voice brings their own personality to the table. TriniGambianAmerican poet Rosamond S. King explores ideas of liberation through poetry, while artist Deborah Roberts shares her family's Juneteenth traditions. AGBS's own Lise Ragbir and Cherise Smith contribute essays that look to their familial backgrounds and migrations, outlining what it means to navigate Blackness within Texas.

"I hope this issue, which we began earlier this year before the new wave of attention around the holiday arrived, will reveal some of the complicated and powerful stories that orbit Juneteenth. I hope it is also a reminder that liberation has never been a destination, as scholar Leigh Raiford reminds us in a long conversation on photographs of liberation, but a movement that is always in motion." -Hrag Vartanian