Last year, President Biden signed the National Independence Day Act, officially making June 19 a national holiday commemorating the liberation of African Americans from slavery on June 19, 1865.
This year, Starex Smith, the Miami-based writer behind Hungry Black Man and co-owner of Smith & Webster restaurant, hopes people will mark the occasion with food.
“For starters, June 16 marks the day Union soldiers came to Galveston, Texas in 1865 to make sure all the slaves were freed. They celebrated it with food, dancing, and music. So, it became the America’s spiritual 4th of July. I think the whole nation needs to move around the table and celebrate that,” Smith says. New Times.
To celebrate the occasion, on Saturday, June 18, Smith presents the Juneteenth Food and Wine Festival at Lummus Park in Miami Beach. From 4 to 11 p.m., the festival will feature items from Black chefs from across the country, cooking up Creole, Cajun, BBQ, soul food, Caribbean, African and vegan dishes. “It will be all black diaspora,” says Smith, adding that black cultures have contributed far more than southern food. “Corn bread came from the Black Seminoles. Rice was brought here from Africans. This is a celebration of all black cooking,” she says.
The festival will also host a friendly competition between visiting chefs from Detroit and New Orleans to determine which city has the best culinary treasures. Chefs making the trip include Charles “Pee Wee” Armstrong of PeeWee’s Crabcakes, representing New Orleans, and Detroit-based chef Max Hardy. “Chef Hardy has roots in Miami, but he’s a Detroit chef with four different restaurants doing classic Detroit soul food,” notes Smith.
celebrity chef and The best chef alumna Carla Hall will serve as co-host, along with chef Cecil G.who won the 2018 Miami Gardens Food and Wine Festival battle.
Smith says he’s excited to bring the festival to Lummus Park, adding that Miami Beach officials have been very supportive. “Miami Beach has been a great partner, especially the Parks and Recreation manager [John Rebar] and the city manager [Alina Hudak].”
There’s no place he’d rather have the festival than on the sands of South Beach, he adds, noting, “The beach belongs to everyone.”
Juneteenth Food & Wine Festival. Saturday June 18 from 4 to 11 pm at Lummus Park: 1130 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach. Admission is free. RSVP at eventbrite.com.