TV Celebrates Juneteenth


President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, establishing that all enslaved people in the Confederate states, be set free. But it took until June 19, 1865 for that to become so. The following year, “Jubilee Day” was celebrated which later became Juneteenth. It’s been a long process and many Americans don’t even know what Juneteenth is or what it represents. Today 48 states celebrate Juneteenth (Hawaii and South Dakota are the holdouts) and this year ABC and CBS are making efforts to share this important holiday.

ABC New and ABC Entertainment have collaborated to present the special, Juneteenth: Together We Triumph – A ‘Soul of a Nation’ Special Event on Friday, June 18 beginning at 9 p.m. The special will present an enriching evening of celebration and resilience in observance of the holiday with Leslie Odom Jr. guest hosting two hours of intimate storytelling and powerful tributes with performances by Jimmie Allen, Chlöe (of Chloe x Halle), Leon Bridges and H.E.R.

Former President Barack Obama sits down for a one-on-one interview with Michael Strahan. (ABC/Jeff Neira)

This powerful special event will include the following stories by ABC News anchors and correspondents including Michael Strahan sitting down for a one-on-one interview with former president Barack Obama about race, resilience and Obama’s book, A Promised Land. Other stories include:

  • Linsey Davis delves into allyship and the historic partnerships observed in the last year between the Black community and white neighbors in small towns and Black and Asian American religious leaders in urban areas. Davis explores the nuances of performative allyship versus genuine collaboration.
  • Deborah Roberts opens up her own kitchen for an in-depth look into the origins, history and meaning of soul food. She looks at how the racial reckoning in the last year has influenced Black cuisine.
  • Kenneth Moton travels south where the struggles and discrimination faced by Black farmers are front and center, and money earmarked in the stimulus package for this group may provide hope and relief.
  • Janai Norman showcases a new wave of bold artists who are using their art to inspire change, spark difficult conversations, and ultimately provide a cultural lens.
  • Steve Osunsami introduces viewers to a Black business that helped build the nation brick by brick for more than 100 years. He also spotlights how Black-owned businesses and the “Buy Black Movement” endured during a time of racial reckoning.
  • Zachary Kiesch brings viewers more unaired footage of his “Soul of a Nation” interview with H.E.R.
David Oyelowo plays Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Wendell Pierce plays Rev. Hosea Williams in SELMA. (Paramount Pictures)

On Sunday, June 20 at 8 p.m.,  the CBS Sunday Night Movie will present the Oscar-nominated film, Selma. Directed by Ava DuVernay and starring David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Selma chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965 when revered leader and visionary Dr. King led thousands of nonviolent demonstrators on a campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of brutal opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. 

Selma, which was released in 2014, also stars Cuba Gooding Jr. (lawyer and activist Fred Gray), Alessandro Nivola (John Doar, the Justice Department’s Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division), Giovanni Ribisi (presidential advisor Lee White), Common (civil rights leader James Bevel), Carmen Ejogo (Coretta Scott King), Lorraine Toussaint (Amelia Boynton, one of the pivotal march organizers), with Tim Roth (Governor George Wallace) and Oprah Winfrey as civil rights legend Annie Lee Cooper.

The film, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and won the Oscar for Best Original Song for John Legend and Common’s powerful tribute “Glory,” was produced by Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner and was written by Paul Webb.

Main Image: CBS and Paramount Pictures

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