Juneteenth Liberation Drive-Thru Celebration Acts as Emotional Release for West End

By Kia O. Moore

There has been unrest in the streets of Charlotte since May 29. People have come together to oppose the injustices happening to Black people as a result of interactions with law enforcement. The Charlotte protests, sparked by the death of George Floyd, started in the West End on Beatties Ford Road three weeks ago. Peaceful demonstrations by day gave way to tense interactions between protesters and police by night.

Day after day of facing conflict, fighting oppression, and confronting injustice becomes a heavy load to carry for all involved. The mental health repercussions of dealing with the trauma that comes with centuries of injustice has come to a tipping point. The city, and the nation for that matter, needs a chance to release. Upcoming Juneteenth celebrations in the West End and around Charlotte can become that release.

Juneteenth is about celebrating the freedom of Black people in the United States. Juneteenth is when they learned of their liberation under the Emancipation Proclamation. Months after the Civil War ended, on June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, federal troops came to Galveston, Texas to take control of the state to ensure all enslaved people were free.

Texas, and the southwest in general, was slow to freeing slaves even after President Lincoln declared it must be done on January 1, 1863. Once the federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to spread the news of freedom, resistance arose from the white population and celebrations broke out among the Black population. Juneteenth is the continued celebration of that freedom.

Charlotte has several Juneteenth celebrations scheduled that will be adhering to the social distancing required during the time of COVID-19. One in particular is happening in the West End. On Friday, June 19, the same street where the protest sparked by #GeorgeFlyod started some weeks ago will transform into a parade of decorated cars celebrating the freedom of all people in the United States. 

The Juneteenth Liberation Drive-Thru Celebration will happen on Beatties Ford Road on Friday, June 19 from 6:30pm - 8:00pm. At the drive-thru celebration people are encouraged to honk their horns, create signs, dress in celebration of black culture, and decorate their cars in celebration of black culture. It will be a time to celebrate black joy amid the heavy burden of fighting injustice in the streets through civil protests. The drive-thru will be a celebration opened to all who pull-up and participate in the celebration of black culture, black liberation, and Juneteenth. The parade line will start at the McCrocrey YMCA (3801 Beatties Ford Rd #3215, Charlotte, NC 28216) at 6pm.

The idea for the drive-thru celebration concept came from Wisdom and Cherie Jzar. The Jzar Family are farmers and own Deep Roots Community Planning Solutions. They wanted to find a way to work with other organizations in the neighborhood to celebrate this day of liberation. They knew people in the community were already doing the work, so they thought why not work together to get things done. “Our family works on the principle of ubuntu. ‘I am because we are.’ We are about individuals working for the collective,” said Wisdom Jzar.

The west side Juneteenth Liberation Drive-thru Celebration involves organizations such as Sol Nation, For the Struggle, Historic West End Partners, Northwest Corridor Council of Elders, My Brother’s Keeper, The League of Intelligence, A Sign of the Times, and The Male’s Place. “It is a collaborative work! We (the Jzar Family) might have thought of it, but it could not happen if it was not for everybody involved,” explained Wisdom Jzar.

The organization For the Struggle wants to turn the Juneteenth Celebration into a west side tradition. For the Struggle Founder Alesha Brown had plans to host a Juneteenth Celebration at West Charlotte High School and on surrounding streets. She had already gotten the permit for the event, but COVID-19 hit and plans had to change. She was looking to support other efforts in the community that were celebrating Juneteenth and adhering to COVID-19 safety precautions. Historic West End Partners Founder J’Tanya Adams reached out to Brown about the drive-thru celebration. For the Struggle hopped in line with the other organizations helping to make the event happen.

Brown plans to make sure the Juneteenth celebration continues to happen in the West End. “It is For the Struggles hope that with this year’s drive-thru and next year’s actual full-blown celebration at West Charlotte High School, we can start a tradition that is incredibly meaningful for our community.