Middle Tennessee State University was on hand to help wrap up the city of Murfreesboro’s Juneteenth celebration and street festival at the Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center.
Murfreesboro and Rutherford County citizens are invited to attend three special events Thursday-Saturday, June 15-17, to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.
Representatives from MTSU’s Albert Gore Research Center, Center for Historic Preservation, College of Liberal Arts and Division of Marketing and Communications will be staffing information booths among the 90-plus vendors who have signed up for the Saturday street festival.
Two of the events — a June 15 authors’ night and the June 17 street festival — will take place at Bradley, located at 415 S. Academy St., and are free to attend. The other free business networking event will be held June 16 at the Patterson Park Community Center located at 521 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
“We are excited to create a learning experience to the community to share the importance of this holiday,” Vonchelle Stembridge, facility coordinator at Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center, said in a city of Murfreesboro news release. “We look forward to our community coming out to celebrate Juneteenth.”
Watch a city of Murfreesboro promotional video below:
• Authors’ Night Book Signing: More than a dozen local authors will discuss their literary works and sign books from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 15, in the Bradley Academy second-floor meeting area. This event supports aspiring Black authors in Rutherford County and will feature a Q&A format.
Authors participating include S.J. Boyce, Diane Brown, Martin Burgess, Michael Dillard, Londyn and Lamar Dixon, Charlotte Duncan-Wagner, Carmen Maples, Margaret McKinley, Mytecia Myles, Correll Oglesby, Sparkle Robertson, Mary Watkins, Darryl Webb and Antonia Whitmore. Refreshments and giveaways also will be offered.
• Kaleidoscope, a networking mixer, is scheduled for Friday, June 16, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Patterson Park. Small businesses and organizations will provide a diverse collection of information and resources for mind, body and soul.
• The celebration culminates with a street festival on Juneteenth, or “Freedom Day,” on Saturday, June 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. along Academy Street in front of the museum. Activities include a kids’ zone, food vendors, artists, arts and crafts vendors, and live music and dancing.
The name Juneteenth, which derives from combining the words “June” and “nineteenth,” recognizes the date when the U.S. Army announced an executive decree in Texas that freed more than 250,000 Black Americans who were the last to learn of their freedom on June 19, 1865.
President Joe Biden signed a bill into law making Juneteenth a federal holiday in 2021, and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee did the same at the state level in May.
This year’s observance is set for Monday, June 19, and MTSU will be closed and no classes held to mark the federal holiday.
Bradley Academy was built in 1806 as the first school in Rutherford County, educating only white males. In 1884, it became the county’s first school for African American students and served children until 1955.
The current structure was built in 1917 and opened as Murfreesboro’s new school for Black students in 1918. Today, the Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center is managed by Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department.
For more information about Juneteenth and Bradley Academy, visit https;//murfreesboroparks.com, or contact Stembridge at 615-962-877 or email@example.com.
— Jimmy Hart (Jimmy.Hart@mtsu.edu)