Juneteenth to Kick Off Celebrations
By Dianne Anderson
Juneteenth is in full swing like never before with back-to-back local events to choose from, but organizers say it’s more than just good times and good eats.
Hundreds have already registered for a June 18 event at San Bernardino Valley College, just one of numerous events popping up.
Expect something for the entire family at the free event, including live entertainment and performances, Youth Zone activities, including a MAC & Cheese Contest, a pie eating contest, an art walk and storytellers.
Edwin Johnson said the programs planned this year are bringing many new resources. The event runs from noon to 6:00 p.m. at San Bernardino Valley College, located at 701 S. Mt. Vernon Ave. in San Bernardino.
“This is a scarcity time, so we have people that need food. We have organizations coming out to provide help for your infants and toddlers. We have Option House, 211 community resources and financial literacy on the spot,” said Johnson, Juneteenth Committee President.
Johnson, president of CHORDS enrichment youth program, works with about 400 students weekly, and some of his youth are providing entertainment. Also featured is historian Dr. Daniel Walker, Sixth Ward Councilwoman Kimberly Calvin, CEO of Arrowhead United Way, Dr. Gwen Dowdy Rodgers, and Karen Scott, Executive Director for First 5 San Bernardino.
A mobile unit will be on site for free wellness exams. Numerous educational programs from SBVC will be in the spotlight, along with paid job training opportunities like the Job Corps. The Sickle Cell Disease Foundation will provide educational resources, and United Way will have a variety of assistance to help local families.
“People are going to be out with on-site job interviews. We have mental health services from the county that’s going to provide families with different types of mental health support,” he said.
The D.A.’s office will help with expungements. They’ll have a KidZone with activities. The San Bernardino Fatherhood program will encourage dads to read to the kids, and they are hosting a Father’s Day award ceremony.
The history of Juneteenth started June 19, 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger took 2,000 troops to Galveston, Texas to officially enforce President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. For two years until that time, white slave owners had refused to comply with, or acknowledge Black freedom.
Also around town the same day, Black & Vaxxed / Young Enough to Know presents its 2nd Annual Juneteenth Soul Festival Celebration. A full array marketplace and soul food vendors will be held at the San Manuel Stadium from noon to 6:00 p.m., located at 280 S. “E” Street in San Bernardino. Family fun day passes are free on Eventbrite.
In Riverside, Kayla Booker said their event is a great way to socialize, but her favorite part of the celebration is just watching the kids light up as they learn new things about their culture, and themselves.
“We’ll have a kids corner with activities, arts and crafts, kid games, potato sacks, and we’ll have an area and hopefully get some people vaccinated,” she said.
The 2nd Annual event is hosted by The Black Collective and Iota Phi Theta Beta Zeta Omega Chapter has a full day of activities, featuring African Marketplace, foodie area, KidsZone, and more. On Saturday, June 18, that event runs from 1:00 – 6:00 p.m., located at White Park at 3936 Chestnut Street, Riverside.
The event promises great fun with live art and artists painting, and the community can also de-stress, and enjoy a fashion show with six African American designers from the area. Local nonprofits will feature their services, including the local Black Chamber of Commerce and Black Infant Health program. A vaccination unit is also coming out to help get more people vaccinated.
More importantly, it’s a time to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday.
“I really want African Americans to celebrate their culture,” said Booker, a small business owner and founder of Black Leaders Achieving Culture Knowledge (B.L.A.C.K.) Collective. “We always celebrate 4th of July as America being the land of the free, but there was never a time where we ever really, as African Americans, celebrated the end of slavery.”
Coming up the following day in Perris, the Juneteenth Cultural Festival is hosted by Perris Valley African American History Committee. On Sunday, June 19, They are offering free Fathers Day dinner for those who register for those events. That event runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
In Long Beach, Dr. Jerome Hunt is organizing Long Beach City College for its first Juneteenth campus event.
While they’ve always celebrated individual speakers and programming, he said this is the first time the entire community is invited out to enjoy the day in a public way.
On Saturday, June 18, the event runs from noon to 4:00 p.m. at the A Building, Liberal Arts Campus at LBCC, located at 4901 E. Carson St., Long Beach. There is free parking.
“We are currently trying to reach out to a wide variety of businesses and organizations to see if they’re interested in having a table at the celebration. Also, we may have links to other resources, whether on campus for students or community resources for food, clothing and shelter,” said Dr. Hunt, who is also co-chair of Black History Month events.
The community is called to bring their blankets and decompress with activities, music, games, live performances, a resource fair and free food. Live performances by FM2 & Intentional. Music is by DJ B-Rokk. Vendors are welcome to bring their arts, crafts, and information that they want to share with the community.
It’s also a great way to support Black businesses.
“We also have a resource fair where we are inviting as many as we can fit local Black businesses, organizations and clubs to come out and have a table to give out information that they provide, or the type of any goods or services that they sell.”
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