Juneteenth, a state holiday first recognized by Texas in 1980, commemorates June 19, 1865, the day Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger brought federal troops to Galveston and announced the Civil War was over and enslaved Black people were free.
The city of Austin will be marking the occasion in a number of ways, including a "Stay Black and Live" live stream organized by the Carver Museum.
Several Austin artists are recognizing the day with powerful new songs reflecting on the ongoing struggle for justice in the Black community.
In addition, Bandcamp will be donating 100% of the company’s share from sales on June 19 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Here are a few new songs to add to your Juneteenth soundtrack:
"Passion of the Poets" by Third Root
Texas’ premier rap scholars meet the current moment with an exhilarating 12-track collection that weaves potent wisdom into sharp wordplay over soulful grooves, fuzzed-out cumbias and spectacular blasts of brass.
"The album celebrates the ardor of the musicians and poets who fill the world with inspiration to carry on during this time of action. Dig in and share these poetics for movement and action," rappers Mex Step and Easy Lee said.
Black Pumas, the Suffers’ Kam Franklin, Grupo Fantasma, Bavu Blakes and more put in cameos along the way.
Listen and purchase on Bandcamp.
"I Can’t Breathe" by Tank Washington
"I recorded this song the day the protests started in Austin. I was just angry and frustrated at the fact that we have to go through this with the police again and again," Washington said. "It's been decades and centuries, just with different names and faces. Our ancestors had to do the same thing and I was just frustrated that sometimes it seems like nothing's changed and that we're still trapped in the same cycle. It feels like these cops think that because they enforce the law, that they're also above it. They need to be held accountable."
Washington recorded "I Can't Breathe" in "the heart of the east side where Black people have traditionally lived in Austin."
"I was at Above All Studios near Givens Park, where I first started with my professional career in music. We used to have to deal with police in that exact place when they would come to the studio tripping on us, so the experiences I've gone through and seen helped fuel my emotion," he said.
The song features beats and rhymes by Washington’s brother, Kydd Jones.
Purchase on Bandcamp.
"I Can’t Breathe" by Tje Austin
"I've been pulled over over 20 times and it scares me every time," the R&B crooner, who did a stint on the first season of the NBC singing competition "The Voice," said.
"I was stopped walking across the street from Target to my apartment complex because I matched a description. I have a very real fear of police officers. With the murder of George Floyd and the protests that have followed I haven't been able to find the words to express the hurt/rage/fear, but on June 11th this song emerged. We need change in this country. This is just a song, but it’s how many Americans including myself feel."
"Goblin" by Kydd Jones
The track by the LNS Crew heavy (and Tank Washington’s brother) was actually released on SoundCloud a couple weeks ago, but it went live on other streaming platforms on June 19.
"I was actually planning to release another song, a different song, but it wasn’t the type of music I was trying to put out at the time that was reflecting everything that was going on in the world," Kydd Jones said. "So I stayed up the night after I went to a protest, May 30, you know, just filled with emotion and just filled with energy at the same time. I was just getting it out. That’s my therapy. That’s the way I get my word out. That’s the way I get my emotions and my feelings out. So that’s what I did."
Purchase on Bandcamp
"Mad" by Mama Duke
"Mad," the first wide-release single from the rising Austin rapper, came out in March, but the video for the song (her first) drops at 6 p.m. on June 19.
"As a queer Black woman I'm proud of its power. I'm excited to ruffle feathers with these lyrics. It's been a long time coming and I wanna make that known in my tone and my approach," she said.
"This is what a powerful woman looks and sounds like that doesn't give a (expletive) about how you depict my artistry. Like it? (Expletive) amazing. Don't? Music is not my only outlet. You're bound to like something I do."
Listen and purchase on Bandcamp.
"No More Silence" Vol. 1 - Austin Musicians For Transformative Justice
Kate Robberson of Ley Line and Nicolas Sanchez of Superfónicos conceived this new compilation series as a way for Austin artists to use music to contribute to the conversation about social justice gripping the nation.
"We wanted to use our platform to amplify a message of unity, to amplify Black Austin artists, as well as world artists, and to raise funds for our local social justice organizations. Music has always been a unifying force across the world, but we still see a lot of ways that Austin can improve in being more inclusive in representation, funding and diversity amongst our artists and the spaces they perform," Robberson said. "We created this album as a way to show solidarity, but also continue the conversations around how we can make real systematic change from a grassroots level in our industry by standing up for voices that matter."
The album includes tracks from Swimming with Bears, Ray Prim, Gina Chavez, Brownout, Tomar and the FCs, Trouble in the Streets, Ley Line, Superfónicos and more. It is available for purchase for $20 on Bandcamp with all proceeds from the album going to the Austin Justice Coalition.
Listen and purchase on Bandcamp