Juneteenth in America
The holiday in South Carolina will be marked with the mix of celebration and education that typifies Juneteenth around the country. On Saturday, in Aiken, S.C., the Center for African American History, Art and Culture, will celebrate Juneteenth in Perry Park, 720 Abbeville Ave., behind the Schofield Middle School. The all-day event, "Juneteenth: Celebrating the Good News," combines the frivolous (face-painting and water games for the children) with the deadly serious (blood and cancer screenings, as well as a voter registration drive in this contentious presidential election year).
"It's our signature event," said Jo-Anne Saunders, the development coordinator for the center. "It's in a festival format, but it's also a cultural exhibit. Our mission is to educate everyone on African-American facts and contributions," she told the Aiken Standard earlier this month.
The Juneteenth Arts and Cultural Festival is set for Saturday in the historic Diamond Square district of Cocoa, Fla. The schedule of events points to how Juneteenth, while serious in its heritage, is nonetheless very much about celebration for its own sake. Music, from gospel to jazz, hip-hop to R&B will be part of the event, as well as arts activities and face painting for children. Food--from standard picnic fare like hot dogs and hamburgers to more geographically-based options like shrimp, crabs and Caribbean cuisine--will be another equal opportunity attraction.
In Sebring, the 12th annual Juneteenth Family Fun Festival gets underway on Saturday at 10 a.m., at Firemen's Field, off South Commerce Avenue. Vendors will be on hand with food, arts and crafts displays, and community information. And despite the Afrocentric origins of Juneteenth, this event's planners emphasize a desire "to bring together this county's diverse population in one group setting, to experience what a joy [it is] to be an American citizen. We're hoping for a fulfilled atmosphere of hope and friendship to all our fellow countrymen that we have not met. ... Latinos, Germans, Europeans, Asians, West Indies, Caribbeans, all cultures ..."
Detroit has been a natural for Juneteenth, given the Motor City's historically high percentage of African American residents. The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History will do its part with its 145th Juneteenth Celebration to be held on Tuesday, June 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the museum grounds, at 315 E. Warren in Detroit's Cultural Center.
The Wright museum is showing some extra love for military men and women. Although Juneteenth festivities are free, getting into the museum's exhibitions is not. But active-duty members of the U.S. military with proper ID will receive free passes.
Celebrations are also planned for Saturday in Battle Creek (at Claude Evans Park, from noon to 5:30) and in Kalamazoo, on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m., in the Dalton Center Recital Hall on the campus of Western Michigan University.
Also in Kalamazoo, another Juneteenth celebration (this one on June 23 in the Miller Auditorium on the WMU campus) will feature a performance from the Lebagatae Dance Ensemble, directed by Moustapha Bangoura, a master of dance and the drum who hails from Guinea, Africa. It begins at 4 p.m. Tickets ($15 for students and $10 for seniors, students, children and groups of 10 or more) are available at the auditorium.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Do you always take a summer vacation?
- Yes, it’s when the kids are out of school
- No, flight prices are cheaper in off-peak season
- 64 %Sometimes, but not exclusively