FAITH AND FREEDOM
Bob Bullock Museum hosts Juneteenth documentary screening on June 4
To commemorate the significance of the first new federal holiday in nearly 40 years, a new documentary provides insight into the history of racism, slavery, and faith in America. Austinites can catch a special screening this summer at the Texas Spirit Theatre in the Bob Bullock Museum on June 4.
Juneteenth: Faith and Freedom will explore how the holiday originated in Galveston, Texas, and share the stories from descendants of formerly enslaved people. Host, producer, and pastor Rasool Berry guides viewers through his journey throughout the state, visiting historical sites and speaking with experts and the “grandmother of Juneteenth,” Opal Lee, who pressed Congress to recognize the holiday and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2022.
While working on the documentary, Berry learned just how powerful Juneteenth is to the people who were there to celebrate it for the first time at a church in Galveston. He said in a press release that those who were “closest to it understood their emancipation on spiritual terms.”
“To really understand that story, we need to grasp their perspective on their own emancipation,” Berry said. “The church is where the story starts, but that’s not where the faith component ends. The role of the Black church in establishing communities was really vital, I discovered.”
The film is directed by Ya’Ke Smith and is presented by Our Daily Bread Voices Collection. It received widespread recognition at film festivals, including the Austin Revolution Film Festival, Dallas International Film Festival, Milwaukee International Film Festival, and more.
Smith said in the release that it’s not possible to share the history of Juneteenth without faith at the center of it.
“It was in the songs sung, it was in the heart of everyone who escaped a plantation and ran towards freedom, it has always been the one thing that the oppressed had access to and that no one could take from them,” he said. “Faith for Black peoples was, is, and will always be the unspoken language of freedom and survival. It is the Juneteenth story.”
The screening of Juneteenth: Faith and Freedom will take place on June 4 from 1 pm to 2:45 pm at the Texas Spirit Theatre inside the Bob Bullock Museum, along with a discussion session led by Berry, Smith, and Executive Producer Mary Beth Minnis. The session will be moderated by Virginia Cumberbatch, a racial justice educator and community advocate.
More information about the documentary can be found on thestoryoftexas.com.