Some 30 years ago, WAMO began ‘Juneteenth’ celebrations in Pittsburgh

UMT Editor & Riverside Sales Group President Alan Lincoln (pictured far right) was pivotal in establishing Juneteenth celebrations in Pittsburgh during his tenure as WAMO General Manager.

By Rob Taylor Jr.

A COURIER SPECIAL REPORT: Courier takes a historical look at Juneteenth in Pittsburgh

Before Highmark Stadium and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds…

Before the “T” went underwater and over to the North Side…

Before they renamed the stadium “Cupples” Stadium…

There was something that thousands of African Americans attended each June, but the vast majority of the young people who attended never understood the significance of; WAMO’s “Juneteenth” celebration.

The date was Saturday, June 19, 1993. A nice day outside. If you were WAMO general manager Alan Lincoln, it was the perfect day to make history, as WAMO set up a stage in a parking lot used for a Farmers Market on the North Side, near the old Allegheny Center Mall and the current Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

It was promoted as WAMO’s “Juneteenth” celebration, and in addition to local talent, the main attractions on that day were Super Cat and female R&B group Sudden Change.

“We knew ‘Juneteenth’ was celebrated more in the South and we brought it to Pittsburgh, we wanted to see how it would go,” voiced Jay Jay Stone, the former WAMO night and afternoon personality who was at that very first Juneteenth celebration in 1993. “It actually blew our minds that folks really came out to support it.”

There are some people that remember Pittsburgh’s very first Juneteenth celebration, thanks to WAMO.

However, the second one, in 1994, is when it really caught on, when WAMO decided to hold its Juneteenth celebration at what was known as South Stadium on the South Side. It was an event that ran all day, where people were able to interact with different vendors, have fun activities for the kids, and witness live music performances. In that year, June 19, the actual date of Juneteenth, was a Sunday. Those who spoke with the New Pittsburgh Courier for this story recalled the WAMO event at South Stadium occurred the day prior, on Saturday, June 18.

By the end of the night, Pittsburgh could say that “Juneteenth” was officially “a thing” in the city. But it also received bad press, as there were reports of fights among some of the young people in and around the stadium that night. It even had some public officials on local television calling for a WAMO event of that magnitude not to be permitted on the South Side again.

Undeterred, WAMO management and ownership, which was entirely local, continued with its Juneteenth celebrations, eventually moving it to the old I.C. Light Amphitheatre, a block or so away from Station Square on the South Side. Highmark Stadium currently sits where the I.C. Light Amphitheatre stood.