Monday, June 19, 2006

Juneteenth Celebration "Your Take!"

Here is a write up from the News Tribune on Juneteenth in Tacoma

Your Comments are appreciated Good, Bad or Indifferent. Also the Tacoma-Pierce County Juneteenth Celebration Committee is looking for Volunteers for Next Years Celebration. Please Contact Carter at icjr52@gmail.com or Ms. Doris Schaffer at the Afrikan Market Place located at 1312 Martin Luther King Jr. Way Tacoma, WA at 253.572.8186 Tues-Sat 12 Noon till 5:00 PM

At Juneteenth, a valiant spirit

STEVE MAYNARD; The News Tribune
Published: June 18th, 2006 01:00 AM
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PHOTOS BY RUSS CARMACK/THE NEWS TRIBUNE
Nikiah Adams, 4, left, and Darius Rozier, 6, get funky to music at a celebration of Juneteenth in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood Saturday.
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Darius finds he still has some room to grow into Tacoma Fire Department gear.
A man and a woman dressed as Union soldiers rode their horses down Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Tacoma on Saturday and delivered the historic message declaring slaves free.

Bishop Charles E. Pringle announced the receiving of the Emancipation Proclamation and then jumped with joy.

“We’re free!” Pringle exclaimed. “Hallelujah!”

Then Pringle challenged a crowd of about 200 people at Tacoma’s sixth annual observance of Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery in the United States.

“We want you to reconcile, to turn your back on racism,” Pringle said. “Look forward to justice. Look forward to love.”

Dramatic depictions of history, live rap and gospel music, and a wide range of vendors’ tables were some of the attractions at the Juneteenth celebration.

Juneteenth, which officially falls on Monday, commemorates the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that the emancipation of slaves had taken place nearly 21/2 years earlier. In 1980, Juneteenth was made an official holiday in Texas.

On Tacoma’s Hilltop, Frederick Johnson watched as people milled around and in the 1300 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way, which was closed to traffic for the celebration.

“It’s good to have something like this,” said Johnson, a disabled Army veteran. A lot of people don’t know about the meaning of Juneteenth, which he said is “part of everyone’s tradition.”

Mike Lonergan, Tacoma’s deputy mayor, praised the crowd.

“We salute each and every one of you in keeping the memory of Juneteenth alive,” he said.

Frank Boykin and Valerie Slater acted out a scene of slaves hearing the news in Galveston that they were free.

Slater, in a slave’s dress and head wrap, convinced a disbelieving Boykin that slavery was over.

“We’re free,” Boykin shouted from the street.

Slater played out the scene with her two daughters, Annalise Slater-Martinez, 14, and Antoinette Slater-Martinez, 11.

Slater said the Tacoma celebration was an important way to remember her ancestors, from slaves to civil rights workers who gave their lives.

“It’s on their backs that we enjoy the freedoms we have today,” said Slater, a Tacoma resident. “I believe there’s a little ways to go today to realize complete freedom for all African Americans.”

But she added there’s power in remembering Juneteenth and the freeing of slaves.

“Knowledge is power,” Slater said. “When you know where you’ve come from, you can envision and dream and believe where you want to go.”

The event was sponsored by the Tacoma-Pierce County Juneteenth Celebration Committee.

Irvin Carter Jr., program manager for the festivities, said the group’s objective was “to bring unity in the community.”

Fatimah Gordon came from Seattle to celebrate the meaning of Juneteenth in Tacoma. As a rap group belted out a song, Gordon danced in the street, next to her table of fragrance oils and body creams.

For her, the message of Juneteenth lives on.

“It means an ongoing triumph of the African American spirit,” Gordon said.

Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647

steve.maynard@thenewstribune.com

1 comment:

Gen PQ said...

This was a very positive start what's up for next year?