If you’re looking for a neat place to celebrate Juneteenth, then Natchez is the place to be. Juneteenth is the oldest known holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, and Natchez is one of the oldest cities in the state of Mississippi. Between 1833 and 1863, it was the site of the second largest slave market in the country, second only to New Orleans.
You can make your plans now to visit Natchez and observe Juneteenth while enjoying the unique history of this exciting city on the bluff. You’ll find that Natchez is a quaint, multicultural city that is steeped in southern history. It is dubbed the “Jewel of the Mississippi.”
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth, which is also called, “Freedom Day” or “Liberation Day,” is short for “June Nineteenth.” For it was on this day in 1865 that U.S. General Gordon Granger and federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to ensure the freedom of all slaves.
President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 to free all slaves in the Confederate states. However, in Texas, it would be two-and-half years later – and two months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered — before the slaves were officially set free. When Granger arrived, he announced the slaves in Texas were indeed free and the Civil War had ended.
In 1980, Texas became the first state in the nation to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. It was followed by 45 other states that provided the same recognition.
Nowadays, people commemorate the day of freedom with parades, music, food, art, history tours, and other forms of entertainment. For many, it’s about education and the past, as well as inspiration for the present. It’s for reasons like these that people come to Natchez.
Celebrating Juneteenth just got easier!
Natchez is the ideal place to celebrate Juneteenth. Why? Among other things, it is a city where culture thrives — and history comes to life! People visit Natchez for the sights and sounds of the south, as well as the great food. Especially soul food. They enjoy the museums, exhibits, and fine lodging. Natchez is where you come to tour some of the oldest historic homes in the state.
And get this: It has the only free-standing slave dwelling, Concord Quarters, that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In short, Natchez is where you can taste the past and immerse yourself in authentic African American history.
Are you ready?
Are you ready for the Natchez experience? Are you ready to see history in a new light? Then make plans now to visit this historic town! Come and enjoy its unique brand of entertainment. Have fun! Celebrate Juneteenth and exceed your own expectations. Visit June 18-20 for an experience that will be lasting. Come and see why people near and far view Natchez as a must-see destination. See for yourself why this city on the river is a hub of historical and multicultural festivities.
The Visitor Center
To get off to a good start, stop by The Natchez Visitor Center at 640 South Canal Street. The Center is strategically located in the downtown area, overlooking the mighty Mississippi River. You can stop in to ask questions, pick up free brochures, maps, and literature. You can also purchase souvenirs, guidebooks, and see exhibits telling the fascinating story of Natchez.
Soul Food Festival and Parade
Food, it’s been said, is the epic center of any good celebration. Not surprisingly, that is certainly true in Natchez, where food is off the chain. Whether you’re hungry and want a full meal to fill you up, or you’re simply curious and want to sample a few bites, you can tickle your taste buds in any number of places. One place to try is the annual Soul Food Fusion Festival, which will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday through Sunday, June 18-20, 2021, in Downtown Natchez. This festival is described as “an immense culinary and cultural experience that highlights the aroma of traditional soul food cooking, fused with historic folklore, cultural arts and music therapy from the diverse background of Natchez.”
By the way, the events of Saturday, June 19th, will include the Juneteenth Parade at 2 p.m. It’s free to the public.
Civil Rights Monument
One unforgettable site is the Proud to Take a Stand Monument, which tells the story of “The Parchman Ordeal.” It honors the citizens of Natchez and Adams County who were wrongfully incarcerated in October 1965 for standing up for basic civil and voting rights. The monument, which is the first of its kind to recognize the civil rights movement in Natchez, is located on the corner of Jefferson and North Canal Street, where the event took place.
African American Museums
If you have an interest in the civil rights movement or the history of slavery in Mississippi with powerful and unique stories, then Natchez is the place you’ve been longing for.
If you have an appetite for black history, then you’ll want to check out the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture. This valuable institution is overflowing with artifacts, photos, displays and historical collections that are critical to understanding the history of African Americans in the Natchez area. The museum is located in the downtown area at 301 Main Street.
Another place that allows you to delve into history is the Rhythm Night Club Museum at #5 St. Catherine Street. This museum tells the tragic story of on April 23, 1940, when the club went up in flames and more than 200 African American Natchez citizens were either burned or trampled to death. The museum, which honors those who lost their lives, as well as the survivors, resides at the actual site of the club. In addition to newspaper articles and photos, the museum’s collections include live recordings from survivors.
Forks of the Road Slave Market
Natchez has an array of historic sites. So when you visit, be sure to bring your camera and prepare to take quite a few selfies. One site that’s become the talk of the town is the Forks of the Road, which was the site of the second largest slave market in the South. Located at 232 St Catherine St., the site uses markers with engaging illustrations and brief history notes to tell the story of the slave market in Mississippi. One compelling feature of the display is a collection of shackles, cuffs, and iron collars that were actually worn by slaves. These items are embedded in a circle of concrete.
Richard Wright and the Black Experience
Did you know that acclaimed author Richard Wright had ties to Natchez? That’s right. He was born in 1908 on a nearby plantation that became part of the Natchez State Park. Wright is the author of the books, Native Son and Black Boy. Just last year he was honored with a marker on the Mississippi Writers Trail. You can see it at the Judge George W Armstrong Library at 220 S Commerce St. Wright’s childhood home, which has a historical marker, is located at 20 Woodlawn Ave.
There’s a Whole Lot More!
This is only a snippet of places and events you can visit in Natchez. There are many other things that you can enjoy. In fact, there’s something exciting for the entire family. There’s also something to see and do throughout the Juneteenth weekend. Visit our website for a complete listing of events at VisitNatchez.org
Even though Juneteenth is only a few days away, you still have time to make Natchez your place of choice for the celebration of this important holiday. Make your plans today! Come and experience this unique city in all of its glory.
Request your FREE Visitors Guide
One other thing: Don’t forget to pick up your FREE Visitors Guide. It’s available by download.