CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA (June 2, 2023) — The African American Museum of Iowa (AAMI) is excited to announce its Juneteenth Commemoration will return for a series of programs starting on Saturday, June 10, and culminating on Monday, June 19. Join the AAMI for a series of free programs and activities for the entire family.

Juneteenth is an annual, nation-wide celebration of the freeing of the last slaves in the United States on June 19, 1865, when news of the Emancipation Proclamation at last reached Confederate Galveston, Texas. Although this celebration has been recognized in some communities for many years, it was only designated as a federal holiday within the last few years.

The AAMI will celebrate Juneteenth starting with a children’s storytime at Marion Public Library on Saturday, June 10, 10AM. The story-time will feature Iowan authors, Michelle Edwards, and Brion Martin. On Wednesday, June 14, 6PM, the AAMI will host a screening of “Decolonizing Mental Health” at the Cedar Rapids Public Library (CRPL). A moderated discussion will follow.

On Friday, June 16, the AAMI returns to the CRPL for a special performance of dwb (driving while black) with the Des Moines Metro Opera. This performance is the first partnership between the two organizations.

“The AAMI is intentional about building unique and meaningful statewide partnerships, and we are extremely proud of this new relationship with the Des Moines Metropolitan Opera (DMMO). We hope our Juneteenth collaboration is one of many future endeavors,” says AAMI Executive Director, LaNisha Cassell. Performed by librettist Roberta Gumbel, dwb (driving while black) offers a compelling appeal to “feel” the emotions of Black mothers. The timely and educational performance, features a montage of poetic and haunting moments examining the trials and triumphs Black mothers experience as their children come of age in a society plagued by racism and inequality. A moderated discussion and reception will follow the performance. This event, like all of the AAMI’s Juneteenth programming is free. However, registration for this event is required as space is limited.

The AAMI’s Juneteenth Commemoration continues on Saturday, June 17, with the AAMI’s annual festival. This free event will be live at NewBo City Market, 11AM–3PM, and include stage entertainment, community-organization booths, activities, and offerings from the Market. DJ Commando will join us as we welcome a variety of talented dance, spoken-word, and musical performances. Mayors Tiffany O’Donnell and Nick AbouAssaly will deliver proclamations, and MC Anthony Betters Jr will lead the journey, introducing each performance. The program series will conclude on Monday, June 19 (Juneteenth) with the virtual premiere of an interview with the 1619 Freedom School, hosted by Dr Ashley Howard.

The Museum’s 2023 Juneteenth celebration is presented by Cargill and co-sponsored by AARP and Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust, with community sponsors Alliant Energy, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, City of Cedar Rapids, City of Iowa City, Collins Community Credit Union, Make It Okay Iowa, and Veridian Credit Union, and media support from The Gazette.

ABOUT AAMI: The African American Museum of Iowa is a statewide museum dedicated to preserving, exhibiting, and teaching Iowa’s African American history. As Iowa’s leading educational resource on the topic, we educate more than 30,000 people each year through museum tours, traveling exhibits, research services, youth and adult education programs, and community and fundraising events.

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