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  June 19, 2017

Juneteenth, Black Joy, and Cooperative Economics

West Baltimore neighborhood celebrates 152 years since Black emancipation in America
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Eze Jackson: I'm Eze Jackson with The Real News. We're out here in a West Baltimore neighborhood called Reservoir Hill at Dovecote Café, a black owned café and community space in the neighborhood that is doing its first annual Juneteenth celebration. Juneteenth is a long running holiday that commemorates June 19, 1865 when the slaves in America were emancipated. The celebration today includes a lot of different things, lots of family, lots of community. We've walked around and talked to some of the folks and just got a sense of what was going on and what the energy was like.

Cole: Today we're participating in the first Juneteenth festival and the 23rd garden and home tour, and essentially it is both a celebration of the neighborhood and the community, but also a real recognition of the opportunity before us to invest in collective economic development and power for black communities and black families.

Eze Jackson: Tell me a little bit about the energy you feel here today, how it's been being out here talking to folks, signing people in, and just interacting with the crowd.

Kevin: Yeah. Yeah. It's love, man. I can't think of another word. People who have never met each other, never been to this block or to this neighborhood, you come in and we all just feel like one. I think now that the age that we're in with social media and people can see what other people are doing, not only across the city, but across the world, and realize that those barriers between us aren't necessary.

Lindsey Brown: I have a business called A Day N June. We're located on 208 South Pulaski Street in the Cambridge Building. We're a women's and men's vintage and new shop. All the vintage clothes come from thrift shops in Baltimore, New York, and the new clothes come from trade shows in LA and New York. I'm here today for the Juneteenth event promoted by Dovecote and to celebrate Juneteenth with all my lovely people in the community.

Quetta Bess: I mean, you see the energy. Awesome DJ Jazz is doing her thing over there. I think Jazz is 25 years old, but she plays old school, she played House. I mean, it has just been a wonderful, wonderful event.

Cole: Our goal today with the energy is really just how do we build a space where it feels in between a family cookout and like we're all sitting on one giant stoop together. The kids are running around behind us. They're playing hula hoops. We have ponies and carriage rides out here. Ultimately, you just want a space where the adults can sit and chill and connect, kick it, and the kids can just run around and enjoy their life.

I think today the energy out here is the definition of black joy. What does it look like? How do we build it? And how are we part of a community that sustains it. Ultimately for us we believe that there is an opportunity for black people in Baltimore and really across the country to begin to think about how do we build intentional community together. That's why we opened up the café. That's why we came to this neighborhood, and the goal was how do we create a space and place where black families thrive. What does that look like and how are we the generators and the architects, really, of that kind of a neighborhood and community?

This neighborhood has all the makings, has incredible families and community that lives here. It was just about being able to add some resources and ways for people to be able to connect with each other and collide. So Juneteenth is just one more way for you to get to know your neighbors, to learn a little bit about the history of our people, but most importantly for us to invest and plan for our future together.


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