KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knoxville’s memorial march and parade celebrating American civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. and the Juneteenth federal holiday will culminate in weekend-long-plus-Monday festivities for the people to enjoy this summer. Other events for Juneteenth are also planned.

Last year, President Joe Biden signed a bill that was passed by Congress to set aside Juneteenth, or June 19th, as a federal holiday now known as Juneteenth National Independence Day.

The Associated Press reports the celebration started decades ago with the freed slaves of Galveston, Texas. Although the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the South in 1863, it could not be enforced in many places until after the end of the Civil War in 1865. Most federal employees will observe the holiday.

In Tennessee, Juneteenth is not yet a state holiday. Last year and in 2020, Governor Bill Lee signed a bill that designated June 19 as a special day of observance for Juneteenth.

The Annual MLK Parade & Beck Juneteenth Memorial Tribute events are scheduled from Friday, June 17 through Monday, June 20 this year, according to Visit Knoxville and the Beck Cultural Exchange Center. The MLK Commemorative Commission is also assisting in organizing the events.

Here’s the schedule of Knoxville Juneteenth events:

  • Friday, June 17 — Beck Juneteenth Racial Justice
  • Friday, June 17 — Celebration & Cookout — Lennon Seney UMC
  • Saturday, June 18 — Beck Emancipation Exhibition
  • Saturday, June 18 — Mabry-Hazen House Juneteenth tours
  • Saturday, June 18 — SEEED Knox Celebration & Block Party
  • Sunday, June 19 — Beck Special Juneteenth Father’s Day lunch
  • Monday, June 20 — Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Commission Parade at Chilhowee Park to Dr. Walter E. Hardy Park.

Parade route: The MLK Parade will start at Midway (Chilhowee Park) 3300 E. Magnolia Avenue. The Midway Chilhowee Park entrance is directly off of North Beaman Street, parallel to Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue. The parade route will run through MLK Blvd and end on Harriet Tubman Street. Following the parade, the Memorial Tribute Service will take place at Dr. Walter Hardy Park.

The conclusion of Monday’s parade will feature a special Beck Juneteenth Memorial Tribute service.

Lennon Seney United Methodist Church at 2084 Dandridge Avenue will host a celebration and cookout event from 3-7 p.m. on Friday. The event will include several guest speakers, activities for kids and on-site COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters.

SEEED Knox is hosting a Juneteenth Celebration & Block Party on Saturday, June 18 at 6:30 p.m. A fish fry is planned. The event will be located at the Greenhouse Cafe: 1617 Dandridge Ave SE, Knoxville, TN 37915.

Mabry-Hazen House will host special tours on Saturday, June 18. Staff will share stories, objects, and research related to the historic house museum, local enslaved communities, and their stories of emancipation. Visitors will learn about the lives of African-Americans connected to Mabry-Hazen House, their achievements and struggles, and the various ways they gained their freedom.
The museum will open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with tours at 10:30 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m. Admission is free, but tours are limited to 24 visitors per tour. Reservations are encouraged and donations are appreciated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report (re. summarized origins of Juneteenth).