NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — While the concept of Juneteenth has been around for decades, how to celebrate it on a national level is still being composed. That's why, in addition to information booths, speakers and music, the Tennessee Alliance for Progress couldn't think of a better way to commemorate Emancipation than with a little artistic participation.
"Doing rainbow swirls for the LGBTQIA community," explained Meg Pollard, an artist using spray paint. "I do a lot of swirls, they help me just calm down and just process everything and just slow down, you know?"
Artists and volunteers helped to repaint the Black Lives Matter mural on Woodland Street, that was originally painted in October 2020 and stretches longer than a football field. Just days after the original painting took place, several cars did their best to smudge the paint by slamming on the brakes across the mural.
"I’m honestly not surprised but I’m really upset that it happened," said Pollard.
This event was all about bringing those words back to life. "I feel like it’s really important for younger kids to have something like this to look at and for the city to be able to show this kind of representation, you know, because we don’t have like much like this here," said Pollard.
TSU student Monica Hardy says Nashville needs to make sure all of this isn't just lip service. "Getting a holiday established, that is nice, but I think we’re wanting more too as well. So I think this is a first step and maybe more steps will be taken because I feel like we’ll be heard more and looked at as a human more," said Hardy.
Which is why these volunteers, long after they head home, promise to plan to make sure both the mural and the holiday stay on message. "A lot of people just think we’re just a race. But we’re much more than a race, it’s a culture," said Hardy. "So we’re trying to get diversity in Nashville and expand Nashville out"
There were also Juneteenth celebrations in Nashville at Fifth + Broadway and Saturday night at Fort Negley.
Juneteenth marks the day, June 19, 1865, when the last slaves learned of their freedom in Galveston, Texas. For years, it was just celebrated as a regional holiday but has grown in popularity over the last few years. President Joe Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth the newest national holiday earlier this week.