We are all familiar with music festivals like Coachella and Burning Man, food and beverage festivals such as Oktoberfest, and other celebratory gatherings like New Orleans Mardi Gras and the Times Square Ball Drop in New York City. What you may not know is that there is also an annual Durag Festival. Nicknamed the “Met Gala of Durags”, this event originated in 2018 and is celebrated in Charlotte, North Carolina, during the month of June to honor Juneteenth. If you missed out on Durag Fest and other Juneteenth celebrations this year, don’t worry, Veeta is here with everything you need to know about these important events and historic happenings.
June 19, 1865
It goes without saying that Durag Fest and Juneteenth are inextricably tied. Juneteenth (short for “June nineteenth”) is honored as of 2021 to be a federal holiday that commemorates the date of June 19, 1865 when slavery effectively ended in the United States. On that day in history, U.S. troops went into Galveston, Texas to take control of the state, announcing that slavery had ended and ensuring that anyone who was still enslaved were set free. The day came two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation established an end to slavery in the Confederate states, however, it didn’t apply to slaveholding border states or rebelion places that were under Union control. The Proclamation did not instantly free any enslaved people, and in places like Texas, it took until June Nineteenth for slavery to effectively begin to dissipate. For this reason, Juneteenth is held in high esteem as a day to honor Black Culture and a deeper understanding as well as appreciation for equality.
The Durag Fest & Juneteenth
Durag Fest is a way of commemorating Juneteenth while also celebrating black culture, identity and freedom. Juneteenth festivals and celebrations have been prevalent for years, however, the Durag Fest is the “new kid on the block”, and takes a more modern approach to honoring June 19, 1865. Durag Fest was created by Dammit Wesley, an artist in Charlotte who’s ambition allowed for the creation of an event that “invites people of all backgrounds to commemorate Juneteenth through community and connecting through the arts.” With the help of his now event partner, Lica Mishelle, Wesley established Durag Fest as a day that “…is about more than just durags; it’s a symbol of black ingenuity, black creativity, black preservation and black pride.”
This year, the Durag Fest was held at Camp North End and attracted thousands of people who came together to celebrate Juneteenth and black culture. By embracing music, creative arts, food, community and of course, the durag, this festival is ever-growing in popularity and is indisputably one for the books.
Why the Durag?
Why is the durag associated with black culture and used as a symbol to commemorate Juneteenth? Durags have been a symbol of black culture and identity since they came into existence. First worn by enslaved women in the 19th-century to hold back their hair during labor, the durag later became a staple within the black community for hairstyling purposes at night. The headpiece went from staple to statement when it started to make an appearance in public light, primarily worn by black men and popularized by famous rappers. Due to stigmatizations and scrutiny, the durag fell out of public acceptance in the early 2000’s, but again resurged to be what it is today: A superior headpiece that is not only fashion-forward, but is also functional for waves hairstyles and symbolic of black culture. If you are looking for a high-quality durag, Veeta Superior Durags are the standard of excellence. Shop with Veeta today and choose from our velvet and silky durag collections, as well as wave caps, styling combs and more!