Juneteenth Family Fun Celebration
By Eliz Dowdy, Staff Writer//–
Saturday, June 17, loomed as a typical southern California almost summer day, but to revelers celebrating an historical occurrence, it was tolerable. From the westside of San Bernardino, to Pomona to Huntington Beach, communities of color gathered to remember, tell their children, and strategize methods of helping those in need.
Juneteenth is an important celebration for African Americans, because it is a remembrance of the fact that almost two years had eclipsed before all of those held in servitude in the southern states were aware that they had obtained a degree of freedom. However, the relevance today extends to the issues that are still creating problems, the blaring inequities that continue to plague our people. People were still reeling from the court decision in the shooting death of Philando Castile. Organizers stated they sought to bring in organizations to share the services they offer to assist those who are impacted
In San Bernardino, at Anne Shirrells Park, the community gathered as they were summoned by drummer Makeda Kumasi to remember those who have gone before. Master/mistress of ceremonies were Edwin Johnson Jr. and Gwen Dowdy Rodgers. The event was a result of a coalition of organizations working together. Attendees received free lunches, including water.
Entertainers included the Unity dancers from United Nations of Consciousness, Heart and Soul Line dance team led by Harriet Stuckey, to help seniors keep active and healthy. From the high desert city of Victorville, a youth dance team also performed.
In Pomona, an added feature was information on sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait. Both are often misdiagnosed, according to host Trudy Coleman.
The celebrations are held in parks, so the emphasis on family/community togetherness can be a primary feature. This is a result of the Black Family Reunions emphasized by the late Dr. Dorothy Height, chair emeritus of NCNW.