The first Juneteenth celebration to be held in Homer will take place at WKFL Park today.
Juneteenth honors the day news reached Texas that the Civil War was officially over and that those enslaved in America were free by law. That was 155 years ago and more than two year after the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Juneteenth has yet to be recognized as a national holiday; it is recognized in the South. There is a petition going around trying to get Juneteenth to be recognized as a national holiday. When they found out, when they arrived in Dallas, in Texas, on June 19 of 1865, there was still over 250,000 slaves in active enslavement there in Texas in Galveston or in that area,” organizer Winer Marshall-Allan said. “Which is why it was so important. This is two-and-a-half-years later that they're finding out that the emancipation has been signed and their revelation and their celebration and the Jubilee that goes along with that.
“I think with all of the negativity and hostility that we're all finding within ourselves as we have these conversations and as we find our voice and having these conversations, that this was an opportunity to really celebrate each other and take the opportunity to embrace the diversity that really does make America beautiful. That makes the celebration of freedom that much more diverse.”
Organizer Mina Gherman said there will be food, music and activism during the event.
“We will safely gather at WKFL Park on Pioneer Avenue with masks and social distancing. We will have free food, drinks and music by black artists throughout the event. We will have many ways community members can make a difference right there and then with easy QR phones scanning to petitions and voter registration,” she said.
“There will be an arts and crafts table, a coffee and tea stand for warm beverages. There will be a religious and spiritual prayer, local music, 5:30 to 6:15 p.m., and then an open mic for related songs and expression.”
Marshall-Allen wanted to make sure that the spirituality of Juneteenth wasn’t ignored.
“Juneteenth is also a spiritual celebration. There's a big pride to the African American community, the black community and gospel, and the salvation of Christ. But I just want the community to know that we should be able to come together and fellowship,” Marshall-Allan said. “We should be able to come together and have conversations and it's okay that we don't agree, but it's more important that we listen to each other and that we take the time to accept somebody else's perspective without necessarily feeling offended that that's their perspective.”
Homer’s first Juneteenth Celebration will take place at WKFL Park today, starting at 3 pm. Masks and social distancing are advised.