Vienna Kicks Off Liberty Amendments Month

Maurisa Potts | Town of Vienna Around Town

Four Weeks of Festivities
Set for June 19 – July 19

The Town of Vienna’s inaugural Liberty Amendments Month celebration kicks off this month with community organizations, businesses, and individuals helping shape the four weeks of festivities taking place from June 19 – July 19, 2021.

A celebration of the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 19th amendments, which extended rights to those who had previously been excluded from full participation, Liberty Amendments Month is the brainchild of Town Manager Mercury Payton, who during this past summer of discourse and strife, sought a way to bring us together and to find common ground. “We all can celebrate these amendments that ensure rights and liberties for each of us,” he says.

Liberty Amendments Month will kick off June 19 at First Baptist Church of Vienna’s annual Juneteenth Celebration and will feature nearly 30 activities over the course of the month. This year’s celebration will include an opening ceremony for Liberty Amendments Month that will offer thoughtful reflection on the liberties assured by these four amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The month-long celebration will culminate with a multicultural festival featuring food, drinks, crafts, and entertainment from around the world on July 17.

What are the Liberty Amendments?

The Liberty Amendments are the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 19th Constitutional amendments, which abolished slavery, granted citizenship to anyone born or naturalized in the U.S., and extended voting rights to all citizens regardless of race and gender.

The 13th (1865), 14th (1868), and 15th Amendments (1870) were the first amendments made to the U.S. constitution in 60 years. Known collectively as the Civil War Amendments, they were designed to ensure the equality for recently emancipated slaves.

13th Amendment – Abolition of Slavery

This amendment explicitly banned slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States. An exception was made for punishment of a crime. This amendment also gave Congress the power to enforce the article through legislation.

14th Amendment – Citizenship and Equal Rights

This amendment set out the definitions and rights of citizenship in the United States. The first clause asserted that anyone born or naturalized in the United States is a citizen of the United States and of the state in which they live. It also confirmed the right to due process, life, liberty, and property. This overturned the Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) Supreme Court ruling that stated that black people were not eligible for citizenship.

15th Amendment – Voting Rights

This amendment prohibited governments from denying U.S. citizens the right to vote based on race, color, or past servitude. While the amendment provided legal protection for voting rights based on race, there were other means that could be used to block black citizens from voting. These included poll taxes and literacy tests. These methods
were employed around the country to undermine the Civil War Amendments and set the stage for the Civil Rights Movement.

19th Amendment – Extended Women’s Right to Vote

This amendment declares that the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. 2020 marked the 100th Anniversary of this amendment.

Town of Vienna Liberty Amendments Month Signature Events:

Week One

June 19
Juneteenth Celebration at First Baptist Church
Liberty Amendments Kick Off

11:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m.
450 Orchard Street NW, Vienna

The 2021 Juneteenth Celebration will include the Inaugural Liberty Amendments Month Ceremony at 11 a.m., live music, kids’ performers, vendors featuring black owned businesses and craft vendors, civic organizations, food trucks and a book give away for kids. The event will be live streamed on Town and First Baptist social media. First Baptist Church will be holding a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic during the event.

June-20-25 area events and programs focusing on the 13th Amendment (the abolishment of slavery).
View full schedule

Week Two

June 26
14th Amendment Kick Off Celebration
Loving vs Virginia and It’s Import – An Oral History and Discussion

1:00 – 3:00pm
Vienna Community Center

A summary of the supreme court case followed by a Q&A with Philip Hirschkop (who represented the Loving’s), along with first person testimonial from community members who were directly effected by the Supreme Court decision in 1967.

June-27-July 2 area events and programs focusing on the 14th Amendment (citizenship rights and equal protection under the law)
View full schedule

Week Three

July 3
15th Amendment Kick Off Celebration
Justice for All Concert & Festival

6:00 – 8:00pm
Vienna Town Green
144 Maple Ave.

Sponsored by Vienna Presbyterian Church

A showcase of community musicians performing songs with a justice theme. Event will also feature food vendors, civic organizations, voter registration and more.

July 3-July 9 events and programs focusing on the 15th Amendment (extended the right to vote to all men regardless of ‘race, color, or previous condition of servitude”)
View full schedule

Week Four

July 10
19th Amendment Kick Off Celebration
‘But for the 19th Amendment’ – A Talk Delivered by Cheryl Johnson, Clerk of the US House of Representatives

2:00 p.m.
Hybrid Event
Vienna Community Center
120 Cherry St. SE
and Livestream via Facebook and YouTube

A speech and Q&A with Cheryl Johnson, Clerk of the House of Representatives
Followed by the American Association of University W performance: Failure is Impossible

July 17
Multicultural Festival (Closing Event)

2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Downtown Historic Church Street and the Vienna Town Green

A day-long bevy of performers, interactive activities, crafts, food and vendors that celebrate the diverse cultures and communities represented across Northern Virginia and the DC Metro Area.

July 10 – July 17 events and programs focusing on the 19th Amendment (extended voting rights to women)
View full schedule

July 19
Observance of Liberty Amendments Day
(Town Offices Closed)

In addition, each week between June 19 and July 19, one of the four liberty amendments will be celebrated with contests, entertainment, lectures, performances, classes, themed restaurant specials, art exhibits, films, shows, walks, and more. All events are open to the public and will follow COVID protocols.

Liberty Amendments Day has been recognized as an official 2021 Town holiday and the monthlong celebration has been officially recognized by the commonwealth of Virginia, having been adopted this year by the General Assembly.

“I am so proud that the Town of Vienna is leading the way in initiating this holiday and monthlong commemoration of these fundamental rights that we all cherish,” says Mayor Linda Colbert. “I am especially proud that Town Manager Mercury Payton came up with the idea and we have worked hard to see it become a reality.”

For more information on the schedule of events and activities go to viennava.gov/liberty. To learn more about the Amendments, visit constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution.