What in the world is Juneteenth, you say?

Let me give you the gist.

On a hot Southwestern day in June (some say it was on the 19th day of June), way back in 1865, the African-American slaves in the state of Texas finally found out that all slaves had been freed nearly THREE years earlier by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 with the Emancipation Proclamation! (You see, African slaves in Texas didn't have the luxury of reading local newspapers (slaves weren't allowed to learn to read) or apparently, they didn't even have a town crier! There were no modern luxuries like email, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook or obviously, a local newspaper.)

Upon learning that their slave masters had withheld this information (there are many theories on why no one told the slaves in Texas), the newly-freed Africans a choice to make. They could have revolted and burned everything down in outrage or they could stop slaving away! They took the high road and decided to celebrate and throw themselves a HUGE party, and so it was declared: celebrations all around for everybody! Every year after 1865, the "Freedom Party" that began in Texas got bigger and bigger as the news traveled through their family and friends.

Fast forward to the year 2018, Juneteenth is now celebrated by Black communities all over America, including Yakima and in the Tri-Cities. We celebrate the freedoms enjoyed by our ancestors long gone and appreciate the freedoms we continue to have today.

I have the privilege of being the honorary emcee of this year's Juneteenth Kickoff Party event in Yakima this Friday, June 15th. Even if you are not an African-American, you are hereby invited to come party with us at the two-day celebration! Food vendors will be selling your favorite "Freedom Foods", and make sure to bring a picnic blanket and some comfortable lawn chairs (there will be a few picnic tables on site). My 7-year old daughter, Willow, is one of the Junior Miss Juneteenth contestants. She is going to sing "It's Raining Tacos" in the talent competition.

What: Juneteenth Celebration at MLK Jr. Park in Yakima

Where: S Eighth and East Beech streets, near Washington Middle School

When: Friday, June 15, and Saturday, June 16

FRIDAY: (6PM-8PM)

6:00 PM        "Oldies but Goodies"

6:30 PM        Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation

6:45 PM        Live & recorded music and dancing including:

Hip Hop, 80's jams, Doo-Wop music, "How We Got Over" Negro Spirituals, songs of the Civil Rights Movement, Breakdancing, Electric Slide, Cha Cha Slide, Rosebud Youth Activities Fusion Dance team performance, Introduction of Mr./Miss and Junior Mr./Miss Juneteenth Contestants, Open mic performances by local talent and "Name That Song" prizes.
 
SATURDAY: (10AM-4PM)
All-day celebration with emcee, James Parks. There will be dancing, food, local talent at the open mic and sharing of the African-American culture with the Yakima community. Celebration includes Bouncy house, splash water park, pinatas, Double Dutch jump rope, face painting and other fun activities for kids of all ages to enjoy!
12:00 PM       Crowning of the Mr. and Miss/Junior Mr. and Miss Juneteenth Pageant
2:00 PM        Ruby Bridges Reading Festival sponsored by the YWCA of Yakima