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This Group Is Celebrating Juneteenth — And Black Youth — In West Palm Beach

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Youth Concept Gallery
The 2019 Art in the Park event by Youth Concept Gallery

Juneteenth is taking on special significance this year, against the backdrop of nationwide unrest over police killings of Black Americans.

The June 19 holiday commemorates the day the last enslaved African Americans learned of their freedom in 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger led soldiers through Galveston, Texas, to spread the news — more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

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Black education. Black economic empowerment. A celebration of Black culture and spirit — Juneteenth festivities throughout South Florida and the country are taking shape, and one group in West Palm Beach is using the holiday to “support underserved youth.”

Denley Murat is the founder of FLAVAR [Florida Variety], a West Palm Beach events, media and artist collective. He’s putting on an event that serves to educate and entertain the community.

The Art of Freedom will be a variety show featuring art, food, local acts, and interviews with community leaders. It’s also a fundraiser for the Youth Concept Gallery, which works with incarcerated youth at the Department of Juvenile Justice.

“What they used that money for is pretty much their curriculum and some of the initiatives that they support, ranging from creative arts, from economics, from fiction to nonfiction, African African-American studies,” Murat said.

“Our youth is the most important thing within our community. Teaching them. Exposing them to different things that unfortunately we weren't able to be exposed to. And show them a better way.” 

Merat says protests over policing and other issues facing Black communities inspired him to create events that push for solutions. All of the proceeds will go to Youth Concept Gallery.

The show will take place Friday at Studio 1016 from 3 p.m. to midnight.

Another group of young Black professionals in West Palm Beach are also hosting a Juneteenth panel discussion on public policy June 18.

The Creativ Dept is a media group that connects communities through events and dialogue. The panel will celebrate the holiday by addressing specific issues facing black communities in Palm Beach County.

Organizers say they’re calling it a “Juneteenth Postlude” as a way to explore, “where we are now and where we are going.” Head here for details.