IE & OC Host Juneteenth Events (Part 1)
By Dianne Anderson
Juneteenth events are buzzing everywhere this year, almost one on every corner, but Trudy Coleman remembers when her Pomona Valley event was the only option for miles and miles around.
Until about the mid-1990s, for the most part it was a little-known celebration, except for its Texas roots. She and her colleague John Thompson, past president of the Pomona NAACP, pushed hard to bring awareness and policy change.
They got the ball rolling.
“Yes, we were the ones that did all the work that got the national movement,” she said. “When President Biden signed the bill, it became a federal holiday,” said Coleman, CEO/Founder of the Juneteenth Education Technology Mobile Arts Center, Inc.
For over 30 years, she and Thompson brought Juneteenth to Pomona along with many petitions and bills, and the federal side was a big hurdle. Coleman is a long-time partner with community leaders who pushed the legislation to establish every third Saturday in June, and June 19 as “California National Juneteenth Freedom Day.” It was signed by Gov. Davis in 2002.
Juneteenth has endured, which she said is a testament to not only preserving African American consciousness but also increasing worldwide awareness.
“It’s a second independence day freedom for everyone born on American soil. Everyone in America didn’t want to be here,” she said.
On Saturday, June 18, the City of Pomona and J.E.T.M.A.C. Inc. hosts its 32nd annual Pomona Valley Juneteenth Family Arts and Jazz Festival from 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m at Ganesha Park, located at 1575 N White Ave, Pomona.
It starts with a gospel concert featuring Inland Empire’s Anthony Anderson, Annjee Byrd, Valarie Singleton, and Soul Sauce, to name a few. They are also hosting a variety of vendors, along with free dental and vision checks. Free COVID-19 testing and vaccinations are sponsored by the local branch NAACP.
Coleman commended her colleague, the late Dr. Ronald Myers, chairman and founder of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, who spearheaded the charge to get Juneteenth recognized in Washington DC.
Today, Juneteenth is a household name.
Juneteenth now as a federal holiday, means that most federal and some private employees get a day off with pay. Bills on the state side are slowly winding through legislation.
Also kicking off the holiday ahead of time, Riverside Juneteenth Celebration Foundation, Inc. welcomes the community to enjoy its 22nd annual event in recognition of the recent legislation passage. On Saturday, June 4, their virtual “A Day of Remembrance” will explore the last 403 years of African American history, with entertainment, singing and dancing. They will also feature a health workshop with COVID-19 presentation. Also, “The Third Root,” Afro-Mexican connections. That event will stream on Facebook and Youtube and participants can check it out at their website www.juneteenthsocal.org
Orange County is also hosting more Juneteenth celebrations as communities breaking out to the great outdoors.
Families are invited Friday, June 17, to bring the kids to celebrate storytime, music, movement around Pan African themes, Kente cloth patterns of freedom and other matters of the heart. The event, in partnership with Regina Ossey of Jack and Jill of America, will be held at 11:00 a.m., and again at 2:30 p.m. at the Pretend City Children’s Museum located at 29 Hubble, Irvine.
In partnership with BIPOC, the Black, Indigenous and People of Color, and the City of Irvine, the Juneteenth Freedom Celebration is hosting free live performances and fun activities for the whole family. It runs from 11:00 to 3:00 p.m. at Great Park Palm Court.
The Juneteenth celebration stems from Texas on June 19, 1865 when 2,000 troops rode into the state to give the word of freedom to a quarter million slaves who were still in bondage two years after slavery ended. While the emancipation proclamation was official in 1863, it took two years for the government to issue official orders at Galveston.
This year’s OCHC Santa Ana Juneteenth Festival is also sponsored by the Orange County Heritage Council and the city of Santa Ana, and event partners OC Learning Black History and Black OC. It will be held at Centennial Regional Park, located at 3000 W. Edinger Avenue, and runs from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
T. Leon Berry, president of the Santa Ana Black Historical Society, said Juneteenth helps the community to better understand their role in staying positive and valuing freedom.
He is excited that the event is local in Santa Ana because the has a rich Black history that spans all areas of social justice and inclusion. For him, he said that Juneteenth is the awareness of freedom, but also maintaining that freedom.
“It was a notification of you being free, being able to become part of America, and not be enslaved,” he said. “We must get involved and make the world a better place, and not enslave ourselves.”
This year, Berry also hopes the Juneteenth event will honor Mr. Warren Bussey, who just recently passed away at 108 years old. He was a World War II veteran in segregated ranks, and local businessman, and a survivor through many decades of local discrimination.
“Juneteenth should be around him, Mr. Bussey had been in Orange County for over 50 years,” he said. “Santa Ana is where we created the history. It’s where we integrated the schools, where we had to first Black teachers. We made action in the city, we created the historical society.”
For more information, see cityofirvine.org/juneteenth