Count Down to Juneteenth 2024, part of Liberty Amendments Month

Count Down to Juneteenth 2024, part of Liberty Amendments Month

Tender BBQ ribs, Juneteenth 2022, Liberty Amendment Month, Town of Vienna, June 18, 2022

Tender BBQ ribs, Juneteenth 2022, Liberty Amendment Month, Town of Vienna, June 18, 2022

The Emancipation Proclamation, by President Abraham Lincoln, effective on January 1, 1863, freed enslaved people in all places held by the Confederacy. On June 19, 1865, U.S. Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3. Two and a half years after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, the order told Texans that every enslaved person in the Confederate States was now free rather than property of their owners. Juneteenth, a combination of June and June 19th, is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, according to the National News Archives.  It became a federal holiday in 2021.

Preparing to kick off its fourth Liberty Amendments Month on Saturday, June 15, the Town of Vienna will hold its first of sixteen events, the Juneteenth Celebration, hosted at the First Baptist Church of Vienna, 450 Orchard Street. The town's Liberty Amendments Month runs annually from June 15 to July 15. It presents various events ranging from talks, concerts, seminars, art exhibits, films, children's storytimes, fireworks, and more, each focusing on one of the United States Constitution Amendments. Liberty Amendments Month honors the passage of the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 19th Amendments.

According to Mercury Payton, Vienna town manager, the Virginia General Assembly took exceptional action in 2020 by officially recognizing the town’s request to establish Liberty Amendments Month starting June 19. "The vote to establish this month-long event as a state-wide memorial was unanimous in both houses," Payton stated at the time. The 13th Amendment (1865) bans slavery. Anyone born or naturalized in the U.S. is a citizen under the 14th Amendment (1868); the 15th Amendment (1870) grants voting rights to all citizens, regardless of race, color, or servitude; and the 19th Amendment (1920) prohibits denying the right to vote based on sex, giving women voting rights.
In 2022, The Connection reported that Rev. Dr. Vernon C. Walton, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Vienna and keynote speaker of the Town of Vienna’s 2nd annual Juneteenth, said he wrestled with the "untampered celebration and unfortunate commercialization of Juneteenth." He remembered “the men and women aboard slave ships who did not go voluntarily and whose remains are at the bottom of the ocean… [and] the mothers who watched their children snatched and separated from them." He also thought about “enslaved workers who could still hear music in the air … This celebration is born out of a painful reality rooted in deceit and deception." 

Walton echoed King: "If America is to be a great nation, this must come true ... when we let freedom ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, from McLean to Alexandria, from Tysons to Gum Springs, from Great Falls to Herndon, from McMansions to tent cities, We will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, Black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants, and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.’”

The Town of Vienna’s four-hour-long Juneteenth Celebration 2024 will feature live music, food trucks, vendors, and a classic car and truck show. Once again, there is a planned ceremony at noon with distinguished speakers and elected officials. Check out all the freebies — a photo booth, children's books, moonbounce, and train rides — and the first 500 attendees will receive a complimentary Juneteenth swag bag with goodies. Take the free shuttle up the road to the James H. Hayes Elks Lodge for the car and truck show. All models from 1999 and earlier are welcome. Free on-site registration starts at 10:30 a.m.; car show awards include Top 10, Mayor's Choice, Pastor's Choice, Sponsors' Choice, and Best of Show. The Juneteenth vendor registration at the celebration is $25 for nonprofit organizations and $50 for companies. Sponsorships start at $500. To register, email

Juneteenth Ceremony, June 15, in Fairfax City

Fairfax City will also hold a free Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 15, in Old Town Square, 10415 North St. Juneteenth National Independence Day is the day in 1865, June 19, when enslaved people near Galveston, Texas first learned they were free. President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing enslaved people on Jan. 1, 1863.

The opening ceremony is at 10 a.m. and will feature a variety of speakers, including Mayor Catherine Read, Deputy City Manager Valmarie Turner and Sen. Saddam Salim (D-37th). Then, from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m., there’ll be live entertainment on stage, as well as food and informational vendors, plus cookie decorating, crafts, facepainting and a balloon artist for children.

The Town of Vienna has scheduled additional events for the first half of Liberty Amendment Month through the end of June. June 18, 10 a.m., Town Green: Kids on the Green and Storytime; June 18, 6:30 p.m., Town Hall: From Idea to Law Panel with Delegate Siebold; June 26, 9:30 a.m.: Textile Museum Day Trip (DC Fight for Freedom Exhibit); June 28, 5:45 p.m.: Summer Concert and Children’s Readers Theatre, Town Green; and June 29, 3:30 p.m.: Naturalization Ceremony Seeman Auditorium, Vienna Community Center.  See the full calendar of events at