Home Lifestyle Scenes from The Lay Out’s fifth annual Juneteenth celebration in Fort Greene Park

Scenes from The Lay Out’s fifth annual Juneteenth celebration in Fort Greene Park

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Numbering in the thousands, folks came to Fort Greene Park from all over the city (and beyond) on Sunday to celebrate Juneteenth at the annual party organized by The Layout – a Black-owned community platform whose Juneteenth celebration has grown every year since launching in 2020. Attendees laid out picnic blankets, snacked on traditional red foods like strawberries and watermelon, played games like Uno, danced to booming DJs, hugged their friends and came to see and be seen in this Black extravaganza of an outdoor party.

“It’s a celebration of Blackness, Black love, Black freedom, Black liberation. Black is beautiful baby!” said Jacqui Wilkins who sat with her friend Dominique Bradley in a Juneteenth t-shirt.

Ameerah Boone, feelin’ it in the park (Photo by Stephanie Keith)

Juneteeth has its roots in events after the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863 and declared the freedom to all enslaved peoples. However, in places still under Confederate control like in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free for nearly three years later. Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when about 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as “Juneteenth,” by the newly freed people in Texas.

Roll call (Photo by Stephanie Keith)

Juneteenth has been celebrated by African Americans since the late 1800s, but recently Juneteenth celebrations have been gaining popularity. President Joe Biden signed legislation in 2021 that made Juneteenth, which falls on June 19, a federal holiday. Interest in the day was renewed during the summer of 2020 during the nationwide protests following the police killings of Black Americans including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Hugs … and Henney (Photo by Stephanie Keith)

It was during this time of political unrest and renewed interest in Juneteenth that The Lay Out had their inaugural Juneteeth event, in 2020 — check out our interview with founder Emily Anadu here. When asked about the significants of The Lay Out’s party in Fort Greene, one theme that emerged repeatedly among attendees was “community.”

“Well, in anytime I’m around my own people, I feel loved,” said Joseph Bryant. “Any time there’s a gathering of people that look like me and on the same vibes as me, it is guaranteed to manifest something great, so I’m so happy to be here. I just think that it’s amazing time to like be a part of a community that really celebrates Blackness and celebrates Black joy. We worked really hard for this and we all feel like our ancestors, if they were looking at us right now they be so proud that we’re like taking up this space and that we’ve come as far as we have.”

Bri Brown added: “It’s important to be in community especially at a time where I think community can be very scarce and a lot of people are just searching for that and so what better time than Juneteenth to come together and do that?”

The Lay Out was lit (Photo by Stephanie Keith)

“It’s just peaceful seeing all the shades of Black and you see all the shapes and the fits and everything is beautiful,” said Dakon Johnson. “This is my first time coming to The Lay Out. I brought a chair but that’s what I’m standing, just like taking it all in because it’s yeah it’s really amazing.”

Dakon Johnson, left, and Joseph Bryant in Fort Greene Park (Photo by Stephanie Keith)

Some people wore t-shirts that read, “free-ish”, some paid homage to their favorite Black artists, but most were dressed to the nines. Dontaya Bobb was resplendent in “the very significant colors” of red, black and green “that embodies our African diaspora and our heritage. The sunflowers are just to lift our spirits up, something that brings everyone joy. I just went to Tulsa, Oklahoma for the largest Black rodeo in the entire nation and they celebrate their 121st rodeo so I brought back the cowboy boots in the hat and I’m just giving you Black realness.”

Dontaya Bobb gets down (Photo by Stephanie Keith)

Besides picnicking and dancing, the other big activity at this Juneteenth celebration was double Dutch rope skipping.

Carey does double Dutch (Photo by Stephanie Keith)

“I used to double all the time as a kid usually with extension cords me my sister my cousins outside of our house in Florida and I still double up a lot every summer,” said Zoda Carey. New to Brooklyn, Carey came alone to the Juneteenth event but knew she would find her people.

Here are a few more scenes of a day that embodied joy, togetherness and resilience.

Photo by Stephanie Keith

Photo by Stephanie Keith

Photo by Stephanie Keith

Photo by Stephanie Keith

Photo by Stephanie Keith

Photo by Stephanie Keith

The post Scenes from The Lay Out’s fifth annual Juneteenth celebration in Fort Greene Park appeared first on Brooklyn Magazine.

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