Among the contemporary composers and performers in Lara Downs’s Juneteenth playlist are (clockwise from left) Daniel Bernard Roumain, Carlos Simon, Jessie Montgomery, Jon Batiste, Davoné Tines, and Rhiannon Giddens.

“At the turn of the 20th century, the sociologist, historian and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois imagined a world that defied the realities of Jim Crow America,” states musician Lara Downes on Thursday’s (6/16) National Public Radio. “Sixty years later, the composer Margaret Bonds took inspiration from his words to write a piece of music full of pure passion and soaring beauty, even as violence raged and fires burned across America, as the civil rights movement fought on for the promise of those same freedoms, still unattained. This Juneteenth … I offer you a collection of music that insists on the promise of freedom, however long in coming. Music that counters the shrieking dissonance of conflict with the radiant warmth of its harmonies, that offers us comfort in our sorrow and sustenance in our struggle…. Music that brings us hope and faith and even joy, urging us to stand and fight another day, reminding us that what we are celebrating on this holiday is our freedom to believe, even in the hardest of times.” In addition to Bonds’s score, Downes’s playlist includes works by Carlos Simon, Davonté Tines, Rhiannon Giddens, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Florence Price, Jessie Montgomery, and others.