Our America: Black Freedom Celebrates Juneteenth
ABC Owned Television Stations embrace the heritage and tradition of Juneteenth in the upcoming multiplatform documentary, “Our America: Black Freedom,” available to stream now across the owned stations connected TV apps* on streaming platforms Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and Roku with a Hulu premiere on SATURDAY, June 19, which marks the historical anniversary of Juneteenth. Produced by the station group’s race and culture content team, the special is a celebration of freedom and the “triumph of human spirit.”
“Our America: Black Freedom” begins with the holiday’s origin at the birthplace of Juneteenth – Texas. It is an intimate look at a holiday – many didn’t know about – that began 155 years ago. Juneteenth celebrates freedom and the effective end to slavery in the United States. It marks the day when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached the last remaining enslaved persons in Galveston, Texas – two and a half years after its signing – on June 19, 1865. The following year on June 19, the first official Juneteenth celebration, also known as “Emancipation Day,” took place.
“Black Freedom” highlights community leaders, historians and local families who share the early history and artifacts unique to the Texas celebration. The special includes deeply personal stories, longtime traditions, modern-day celebrations, and the ongoing journey to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. While the documentary begins in the heart of Texas, the storytelling spans across the country, sharing how Black communities embrace Juneteenth and what “Black Freedom” means to them.
Led by the race and culture executive producers Porsha Grant, Nzinga Blake and Mariel Myers, the team wanted to ensure that community members familiar with the tradition would be the ones telling the celebratory stories that honor Juneteenth. From capturing heartfelt elements such as the 5,000-square-foot “Absolute Equality” mural in Galveston, Texas – that begins at the same spot where Gen. Gordon Granger issued the orders that resulted in the freedom of more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in Texas – to understanding the historical depth of spiritual hymns and dance as part of Juneteenth. Through on-the-ground reporting by each race and culture journalist located across the eight-owned markets of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham and Fresno, viewers will experience the tradition firsthand.
“It’s been amazing to watch Juneteenth flourish. Last year, people were looking for something to hold onto in the racial reckoning following the murder of George Floyd; and for many Black people, that was Juneteenth. For others, the holiday has been a family affair for generations,” said Porsha Grant, race and culture executive producer, ABC Owned Television Stations. “It is critical for us not only to educate our viewers about rich traditions but to share heartfelt stories told directly and accurately from the people that have always celebrated them.”
The powerful storytelling by the ABC Owned Television Stations’ race and culture journalists includes the following:
- The History of Juneteenth – the history of Juneteenth is explained in a candid and eye-opening discussion with distinguished historian Claude Clegg, who specializes in the history of the African diaspora in America.
- The Grandmother of Juneteenth – ABC13 Houston Journalist Cory McGinnis conducts an in-depth interview with the “grandmother of Juneteenth.” The 94-year-old Texas native Opal Lee has been marching two and a half miles in designated states across the country as part of a walking campaign pushing for Juneteenth to become a nationally recognized holiday. Symbolizing the two and a half years it took for news of the Emancipation Proclamation (signed in January 1863) to reach Texas on June 19, 1865, Lee hopes the walking campaign will raise awareness about the importance of this historical day of slave liberation.
- Hymns of Freedom – ABC11 Raleigh Durham journalist Akilah Davis shares with viewers the legacy and beauty of spiritual hymns and how they played a critical role in how enslaved Black people would uplift each other while on plantations. While these songs were songs of solace and sorrow, spiritual hymns were also used to celebrate their new freedom, resilience and hope.
- All Red Everything: Juneteenth Food Tradition – ABC7 Los Angeles journalist Anabel Munoz sits down with a Southern California family keeping the Juneteenth tradition alive in their home. The family’s matron walks Munoz through the symbolic meaning of “red” foods served during Juneteenth. As she opens her kitchen and home, through food, the bloodshed by those enslaved and the resilience and hope tell a powerful story through the preparation, textures, smells and tastes of why she continues to preserve history through cooking.
- Juneteenth in NYC – ABC7 New York Crystal Cranmore looks at how Brooklyn celebrates Juneteenth. In New York, they only formally recognized it last year in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd. Cranmore speaks to Councilwoman Inez Barron and her husband, New York state assemblyman Charles Barron, about a bill to conduct a study on how to determine reparations for Black people.
- Carrying on the Juneteenth Legacy in California – ABC30 Fresno journalist Linda Ha sits down with Dr. Francine L. Oputa, the cousin of Opal Lee, known as the “grandmother of Juneteenth.” She shares how the tradition of Juneteenth is about justice, fairness and equity.
- Generational Wealth – 6abc Philadelphia journalist TaRhonda Thomas examines how generational wealth, long denied, stolen and withheld from Black people due to years of racism and structural barriers, plays a part in Black Freedom. Thomas speaks to financial analysts that provide background and a plan for the future on how to start building wealth.
- What About Reparations? – ABC7 Chicago journalist Will Jones reports that qualifying Black families in Evanston, Illinois, will receive a version of reparations through Evanston’s Restorative Housing Program. But local activists are against calling the program reparations.
- What Does Back Freedom Mean Today? – ABC7 San Francisco journalist Julian Glover sparks the conversation and addresses the important question being asked nationwide, “What Does Black Freedom Mean Today?”
Grant adds: “We hope this documentary proves to be a love song to Texans and others who have celebrated the tradition for years. We invite those that are learning for the first time to watch “Our America: Black Freedom,” and as newcomers learn about the celebration, we invite everyone to join in the jubilee.”
ABC’s “Localish” is shining a light on Juneteenth traditions. The multiplatform lifestyle brand dedicated to telling positive stories spotlights “All Red Everything: Juneteenth Food Traditions” from the “Black Freedom’ special, available now, on abc.com/localish and on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“Our America: Black Freedom” is available via streaming across each *Owned Stations Free News App: ABC7/WABC-TV New York, ABC7/KABC-TV Los Angeles, ABC7/WLS-TV Chicago, 6ABC/WPVI-TV Philadelphia, ABC7/KGO-TV San Francisco, ABC13/KTRK-TV Houston, ABC11/WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham and ABC30/KFSN-TV Fresno, and connected TV Apps on streaming platforms Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Roku and Hulu on June 19.