STRAZ Center celebrates Juneteenth rescheduled

STRAZ Center for the Performing Arts’ second annual Juneteenth commemoration, centered on the theme of ‘Cultivating Freedom,’ is rescheduled for next Thursday, June 23, virtually at 8 p.m.


TAMPA – The current Arts Legacy REMIX season is wrapping up at the STRAZ Center for the Performing Arts, but not without a proper sendoff. This year’s season will end with a Juneteenth celebration centered around the theme of “Cultivating Freedom.”

Due to inclement weather, the second annual commemoration has been rescheduled to Thursday, June 23, virtually at 8 p.m., is an “outgrowth of community conversations we had,” said Fred Johnson, community engagement specialist at the STRAZ.

Fred Johnson, Community Engagement Specialist at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts

“The annual Juneteenth celebration expands the STRAZ Center’s commitment to creating more opportunities for the broader Tampa Bay community to celebrate, acknowledge and learn more about the history of the African American experience.”

The event will start with an overview of the history and significance of Juneteenth and will dive into what it means to cultivate freedom.

“Juneteenth re-acknowledges the proclamation of freedom in Texas, which at that point meant that slavery had officially ended,” he said. “And it’s also important to acknowledge that the full measure of freedom for all is still aspirational in many ways.”

Cultivating freedom, he said, is really a threefold process of liberating the mind, body, and spirit, and this year’s commemoration homes in on what that might look like.

Where the mind is concerned, freedom comes from cultivating knowledge, but the curated and often limited subject matter taught in today’s educational system isn’t the goal. Johnson stressed the importance of a holistic and ongoing approach to the cultivation of knowledge, specifically of history. When the collective learns the accurate, unfiltered history, we can work toward true freedom for all.

“It’s also about continuing to cultivate the minds of our children because they’re the new legacy makers.”

The second element — bodily freedom — centers on what we choose to put into our bodies and how we cultivate a relationship with the earth. Johnson noted that how we treat our bodies through nutrition and movement directly impacts our quality of life.

When it comes to freedom of the spirit, Johnson revealed he doesn’t want people to think this has anything to do with a specific religion.

“The essence of spirit is really about the breath. Whatever country, culture, and language we come from, the one thing that is shared by all human life is the breath of life itself.”

The spirit component of the commemoration honors the breath as the life force we all share. Johnson said that the event is especially exciting to him because of its transcendent theme this year.

“When we look at our world now, we see the great divide. People are in great fear of losing what they have,” he stated. “This Juneteenth is symbolic of how to create the foundation for the greater good of all humanity. This message goes far beyond one group [of people].”

He hopes that attendees will make the theme personal and take to heart how they can apply the message in their lives. When we free ourselves, he feels we create space for others to do the same, adding to the good of the collective.

The Juneteenth commemoration starts virtually at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 23.

“This is the prescription for real transformation if we’re willing to see it that way. We can cultivate a greater good for all, and we must be willing to make that commitment.”

The Juneteenth commemoration starts virtually at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 23. For more information, visit

Attendees can expect a vibrant and interactive event that will include spoken word, dance, poetry, and music. Presentations will be made by a host of community artists and partners, including the Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association.

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