Juneteenth Celebration Planned
June 02, 2009 6/1/2009 12:01:00 AM
Juneteenth celebration planned
ALBANY - Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. In a couple of weeks, Albany citizens will have an opportunity to be a part of the celebration.
The Albany-Dougherty Restorative Justice Center and American Legion Post 512 will host a Juneteenth celebration on the post grounds June 18-21.
"It's a heritage festival for African-Americans. We will do a lot of things our ancestors did," said Joyce Jordan, executive director for the Restorative Justice Center and coordinator of the event. "It will be a self-esteem building experience."
The festivities are expected to include political speeches, fashion shows, games and performances by local artists and entertainers. Vendors will be on hand with food, clothing, crafts, and flea and farmer's market items.
"We want it to be really big," Jordan said.
But there is more to Juneteenth than just fun and games, the event coordinator said.
"A lot of African-Americans don't know what Juneteenth is. We need to know were we come from and where we are going," she said. "It's important because it's a part of our history. It's to promote unity, to educate children, to have fun and to give people an outlook that's good and positive."
The first day of the celebration will be a children's day; the second will be a family day, and the third will be a community day. The final day, which happens to fall on Father's Day, has been designated as the "Tribute to Fathers" day. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.
"We feel this is an important part of our heritage. It's a celebration we want to be a part of," said American Legion Post 512 Commander Sonjia Lewis. "It's packed full of fun and information."
Festivities are also planned at the Gordon Sports Park, located on Willie Pitts Jr. Road near American Legion Post 512. The event is free and open to the public, with the exception of the vendor sales. Those interested in participating as vendors are encouraged to register by June 10.
This is the first Juneteenth celebration to be hosted by the Restorative Justice Center. The upcoming event will mark the American Legion's third participation. The event is also being sponsored by the Sons of the American Legion.
On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, and announced that the Civil War had ended and that enslaved people were free.
"It's important to have a sense of history and how far the nation has come," said Kenneth Cutts, district director for U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany. Cutts also serves as chairman of the board for the Albany Civil Rights Institute.