Voices    City

How to celebrate Juneteenth in Asheville

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Photo by Tony Shivers - Still Smiling Photography

By Aisha Adams. Aisha is the founder of Aisha Adams Media GroupEquity Over Everything’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator, and The Lenoir-Rhyne Equity & Diversity Institute. This is a contributor-submitted Voices piece. Want to join the conversation? We invite you to write for us. Learn how to share your voice here.

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Black Lives Matter and today we are celebrating Juneteenth (June 19, 1865). It is the oldest known holiday that celebrates the ending of slavery in the United States. 

Last year, Asheville’s Juneteenth celebration emphasized equity (i.e. fair treatment, opportunity, access + advancement for all people) as a pivotal next step in securing the future of African-Americans in our great city. 

We are proud to see that Asheville has continued the equity conversation, forming an Office of Equity and Inclusion + a Human Resource Commission in the last few years. In January of 2016, Asheville City Council drafted + approved Vision 2036, a 20-year vision for the city that included “cultural diversity and social and economic equity…evident in all we do.” 

Part of that value has been manifested through the “Mapping Racial Equity in Asheville, NC” project, which includes data on equity efforts in the city and the history of black Asheville, plus information on shifting demographics, the achievement gap in Asheville City Schools, redlining in Asheville neighborhoods + more. We know that there is so much more work to be done, and we are committed to doing that work.

We love that Asheville (and AVLtoday) is filled with so many allies for freedom. This Juneteenth we are lifting up community organizations and people who are tackling complex social issues, like cultivating safe spaces for diversity, equity, and inclusivity.  

Want to celebrate? Here are five ways you can honor Juneteenth with your friends and family – even if you aren’t African-American.  

  • Take some time to learn more African-American history here in Asheville. For example, take a Hood Huggers tour or check out a Racial Equity Institute Traininghere’s a schedule of upcoming virtual and in-person trainings. 
  • Support a Black-owned business. Connect with a black realtor, podcaster, or artist
  • Listen to Black Influencers. Here are just a few of my favorites: 

Marsha Davis 

Desiree Adaway 

Philip Cooper

Tiece Ruffin

Tony Shivers