Harvey B. Gantt Center celebrating Juneteenth, Black culture through art

The holiday, also known as “Freedom Day,” celebrates the freeing of slaves in the United States.
The Harvey B. Gantt Center in Charlotte is using art to teach the importance of Juneteenth and the history of Black culture.
Published: Jun. 19, 2023 at 5:32 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - After a weekend filled with parties, cookouts and get-togethers, Juneteenth celebrations are continuing today in and around the Charlotte area.

The Harvey B. Gantt Center in Uptown has spent most of the year planning for this year’s festivities.

Organizers are highlighting the impact of African-Americans on the history of our country, while finding ways to celebrate how we are moving forward. One way the Gantt Center has accomplished those missions is through art.

Public Programs Manager Afeni Grace helped plan this year’s events.

“Art, as with Juneteenth, as with all of our initiatives around Black culture is the foundation and cornerstone of what we do,” she said.

Screenings, workshops and community conversations are how the cultural center is honoring Juneteenth.

While the holiday celebrates the freedom of African-Americans, the Gantt Center team is focusing on ways to make the day inclusive of all backgrounds.

“Juneteenth is celebrated differently in different regions of the country, and that’s an artistic form,” Grace said. “So we leverage the art as that’s part of our mission. For the Gantt to leverage the art to have certain conversations.”

Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. It’s a part of history that can be uncomfortable for some, but at the Gantt Center, visitors can lean in and see how the past can help build a better future.

“It’s a part of our American history and it’s also an opportunity for us to come together as a people and use the history of this holiday to reflect and be better,” Grace said.

The Gantt Center is nearing its 50th year of community service and has become a pillar in Charlotte, and is striving to continue honoring the history and roots of Black culture.

“We celebrate the richness and beauty of black art and culture and we try to do that in a myriad of ways,” Grace said. “That’s no light task and we take it very seriously. We are honored to do the work.”

The center is hosting Juneteenth programs from 12-6 p.m. on Monday.

Related: Americans mark Juneteenth with parties, events, quiet reflection on end of slavery