On Sunday, June 19, KEXP will observe Juneteenth — the holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States — with a full day of music that celebrates freedom, achievement, education, and building bridges.
After a special edition of Johnny Horn's Preaching the Blues, guests Larry Mizell Jr. (host of KEXP’s long-running hip-hop show Street Sounds) and veteran KEXP DJ Riz Rollins will join Stevie Zoom and Quilty 3000 in the afternoon. That evening, Seattle hip-hop artist Draze will perform on Street Sounds. The day climaxes with a special Juneteeth edition of Expansions, hosted by DJ Riz. And in the early hours of Monday, June 20th, DJ John Gilbreath presents a special edition of Jazz Theatre with two full hours of programming that celebrates the African-American core of Jazz, America’s great gift to world culture, and guest DJ SassyBlack in the first hour.
“Juneteenth isn't just a commemoration of a specific injustice in our history, but a celebration of coming to terms with and making right of that injustice, a celebration of freedom from within our borders, and a continuation of building bridges and stirring the great pot that makes this country what it is today,” remarked Rollins, who has been an on-air host at KEXP for more than 25 years.
DJ Riz will also join Kevin Cole on The Afternoon Show on Friday, June 17 at 3:00 PM to preview Juneteenth with a guest DJ set that showcases songs such as Stevie Wonder’s “Black Man,” “Can’t Truss It” by Public Enemy, and Beyoncé’s “Freedom” (featuring Kendrick Lamar). Rollins proposed adding Juneteenth to the KEXP calendar after witnessing the response to KEXP’s Soul Day celebration of Stevie Wonder’s birthday on Friday, May 13.
"It's important to KEXP that we not only draw attention to the great African-American revolutionaries in the world of music but the great people who came before them that suffered at the hands of slavery,” observes John Richards, host of The Morning Show and KEXP Associate Programming Director. “It’s important that we recognize this holiday around the country both to celebrate the end of this horrible chapter in American history and also so that we never repeat it."
Juneteenth (aka “Freedom Day” or “Juneteenth Independence Day”) celebrates the abolition of slavery in Texas in June 1865, specifically the news and enforcement of abolition when a brigade of Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, TX, two months after the Confederacy’s surrender (and two years after the Emancipation Proclamation). In 1980, Texas was the first state to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday; today, 45 states and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth as either a state holiday or day of observance.