Juneteenth marks the celebration of the emancipation of slaves in America, and though it is a recognized holiday, some Black Sacramentans feel it’s still relatively unknown.
“I don’t think our young people really understand what Juneteenth is,” said Betty Williams, president of the Sacramento NAACP. “They need to understand that it was our Fourth of July. This was our freedom that we didn’t receive until later.”
This year, Juneteenth also has particular significance due to the demonstrations against police brutality and the police killing of George Floyd.
Kindra Montgomery-Block, program director at the Sierra Health Foundation and Black Child Legacy Campaign, says this year’s celebration is about a different kind of freedom.
“Much like those slaves who celebrated their emancipation on Juneteenth, we need to be able to have community conversations and solutions that bring about change and emancipation from unhealthy police practices that have kept communities of color vulnerable,” she said.
Berry Accius, who founded the nonprofit Voice of Youth that works with and mentors young Black residents, says he hoped people celebrating the holiday this year would use it as an opportunity to support businesses they haven’t in the past.
“For me, I want it to be a real investment in our culture,” Accius said. “This Saturday, buy Black, spend money intentionally on Black businesses. We want you to recognize the needed investment.”
Accius wants to see follow-through, as well.
“If we don’t get anything outside of this, we’re going to be right back in the same place,” he said.
There are a number of Juneteenth events happening in the Sacramento region on June 19 and the weekend, including:
In Downtown Sacramento
Time: 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Where: Cesar Chavez Park, 915 I Street
What: A Juneteenth Celebration and Community Rally with speakers Chet P. Hewitt of the Sierra Health Foundation and The Center; Kindra Montgomery-Block, The Center and Black Child Legacy Campaign; Pastor Les Simmons, South Sacramento Christian Center; Patrice Hill, Sacramento Area Youth Speaks. Organized by the Black Child Legacy Campaign, the Sierra Health Foundation and The Center.
Time: 4:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
What: The Folsom Juneteenth Food and Wine Fandango
In Downtown Sacramento
Time: beginning at 5 p.m.
What: Rally, speeches, live performances and a march, organized by the Anti Police -Terror Project at Cesar Chavez Plaza.
In South Sacramento
Time: beginning at noon
What: a Car March and Rally organized by the Sacramento NAACP, starting at the Fruit Ridge Community Collaborative at 4625 44th Street and ending at McClatchy Park in Oak Park.
A Virtual Gathering
When: June 19-28
What: the Juneteenth Festival Online: an online showcase of Black businesses and performances.
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