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In a momentous stride towards reshaping our nation’s narrative, the Biden-Harris administration unleashed an electrifying Juneteenth Concert on the South Lawn of The White House to commemorate the end of institutional enslavement in historic fashion. The air crackled with anticipation as the federal holiday, signifying the liberation of enslaved individuals in 1865 and, took center stage, with President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris leading the charge.

Vice President Kamala Harris, honored as the first speaker at the prestigious event, received enthusiastic “skee wees” from her fellow sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., part of the Divine Nine Black Greek society.

However, it was Opal Lee, affectionately known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth,” who stole the spotlight and perhaps even outshone the Vice President with her candid and impactful words that left the crowd in laughter.

Reshaping Narratives: White House Juneteenth Concert is Historic
Grandmother of Juneteenth Opal Lee speaking at Juneteenth Concert on the South Lawn of The White House on Tuesday, June 14, 2023, | Photo by Christopher Creese for The Black Wall Street Times.

Afterward, the stage came alive with the presence and performances of celebrities. The Tennessee State University Marching Band, known as the revered ‘Aristocrat of Bands,’ graced the airwaves with their HBCU-filled melodies. Their performance exceeded all expectations. Following the awe-inspiring band, the Fisk Jubilee Singers took the spotlight, captivating the audience with their soulful voices. 

However, it was the Hampton University Concert Choir that truly stirred everyone’s spirits, invoking a sense of divine connection akin to a powerful church service. The lineup of extraordinary performances continued with the likes of Patina Miller, Step Africa, Audra McDonald, and many more, each leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of the audience.

Ledisi performs at Historic Juneteenth Concert at The White House Tuesday, June 13, 2023 | Photo by Christopher Creese for The Black Wall Street Times

After the captivating performances and guest appearances, President Joe Biden took the stage with resolute determination, delivering a heartfelt tribute to those who have endured the chains of institutional slavery and the systemic racial violence and discriminatory policies that followed.

“Juneteenth, as a federal holiday, is meant to breathe new life into the very essence of America — to make sure all Americans feel the power of this day and the progress we can make as a country; to choose love over hate, unity over disunion, and progress over retreat,” President Joe Biden said to the crowd of invited guests at the Juneteenth Concert.  

President Biden also reflected on the continued systemic racial injustice that ensued after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and Juneteenth. 

“As your president, I visited Tulsa, Oklahoma, to say what happened there on Wall Street — on Black Wall Street 102 years ago was not a riot; it was a race massacre. It wasn’t a riot; it was a race massacre,” he emphasized. 

He then added, “I signed a law, 100 years in the making, to — believe it or not, to make lynching a federal hate crime and hosted the first screening of the “Till,” a movie 100 years after “The Birth of a Nation” was screened in the same room.

Their vision transcended mere reflection as they rallied the nation to unite in a resounding call for profound transformation, a liberation that extends to all marginalized communities.

Reshaping Narratives: White House Juneteenth Concert is Historic
Grammy Award-Winning Singer Jennifer Hudson performs “A Change Is Gonna Come” at The White House’s first concert commemorating Juneteenth on Tuesday, June 13, 2023 | Photo by Christopher Creese for The Black Wall Street Times

Bringing the Juneteenth Concert to a resounding conclusion, the extraordinary Jennifer Hudson graced the stage, delivering a breathtaking rendition of “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cook. With her unmatched talent and soulful voice, she mesmerized the audience, leaving them in awe and creating an unforgettable moment. As the final notes echoed through the air, President Biden and Hudson embraced each other, symbolizing the profound significance of the night and the pride it would evoke in the hearts of all the ancestors.

Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times and a descendant of two families that survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Although his publication’s store and newsroom...