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JUNETEENTH Baptist church calls for holiday

Sunday, June 9, 2002

The celebration is recognized around the country.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Black history is celebrated during February, but a local church wants the community to recognize an important aspect that must be celebrated in June.
Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, 505 Parkcliff Ave., on the city's South Side, will have a Juneteenth celebration June 19-22 with games, carnival rides, historical activities and, most important, a detailed lesson in history.
Juneteenth or June 19, 1865, is considered the date when the last of the slaves were freed. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed more than two years prior, many slaves did not know of their freedom until Juneteenth.
Organizer Tamica D. Green said Juneteenth symbolizes the end of slavery and has come to symbolize for many blacks what the Fourth of July symbolizes for all Americans -- freedom.
Celebrating the holiday, said Green, has become increasingly popular in Ohio with organized events in cities such as Akron, Canton and Warren. The Warren Juneteenth observance will be June 15 in Quimby Park.
A legal holiday
There are celebrations in more than 200 cities across the country. Texas and Oklahoma are the only states to make June 19 a legal holiday.
Green said the idea to have a celebration here grew out of the church's desire to do more community outreach and bring the community together to learn and celebrate.
"The church has always been the center of the Juneteenth celebration because of the vital role it played to slaves during slavery and continues to play in the black community today," she said.
Green said those attending the celebration will be in for a history lesson mixed with lots of fun.
Part of that lesson will come from a freedom walk planned for June 22. The walk will be in honor of all blacks who lead the way to the freedoms that modern-era blacks enjoy. Those participating will be given tidbits of history along the way.
The Shenango Valley will mark its Juneteenth celebration on Saturday in Veterans Square on Spearman Avenue, Farrell.
Music and dance will be an important part of the daylong celebration, which begins at noon.
There will be food vendors, information booths and games organized by the Prince of Peace Center and the Youth Department of Greater Mount Zion Church of God in Christ.
Some performance highlights of the day include the Youth Stompers of Community Missionary Baptist Church at 12:30 p.m., Praise Team and Youth of New Light Missionary Baptist Church at 1 p.m., Bethlehem Baptist Mass Choir at 2:15 p.m., REAL 4 U in Concert at 3:15 p.m., Greater Mount Zion Kingdom Builders Choir at 5:15 p.m. and the ERASE 724 PA Stompers at 6:45 p.m.