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FREEDOM Residents to celebrate Juneteenth at 2 sites

Thursday, June 17, 2004

June 19 was officially designated as Juneteenth Independence Day in 1997.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The 139-year-old annual Juneteenth celebration will be recognized with food, fun and learning at two area locations.
Juneteenth marks the day when many Southern blacks learned of their freedom from slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed by president Abraham Lincoln in September of 1862, ending legalized slavery in the United States. That information, however, did not make it to many blacks living in the deep south.
It was not until June 19, 1865, nearly three years later, that Union troops told slaves in Texas of their freedom. The Juneteenth celebration began that year as a means of celebrating freedom for black Americans.
The United States adopted legislation in 1997 officially designating June 19 as Juneteenth Independence Day.
Elizabeth Hudson, founder of the Unity Building on McGuffey Road, where one of the weekend-long observances of Juneteenth will be held, said the events surrounding the start of Juneteenth are ingrained in the black community and should not be forgotten.
"This is our Fourth of July. This is in our culture. It is with us. It is something that happened to us," she said.
What's planned
Hudson and her husband, Samuel, have planned three days of events at the Unity Building in honor of Juneteenth. Participation is free and open to the public with activities that she said are important to the black community.
The celebration will begin at 4:30 p.m. Friday with an explanation of the Juneteenth celebration and why it is still important to recognize the day. There will also be a fashion show, poetry and storytelling, the Harambee Boot Stompers and the Harambee Dancers.
Hudson said the first 60 people in attendance Saturday will receive an African mask to be painted and designed by the individual. There will also be a Civil War re-enactment, crafts, a drill team and guest speakers.
On Sunday, several older members of the black community will discuss how life used to be for blacks. There will also be a history bowl and African foods on hand. Participants can also take part in a discussion about Kwanzaa.
"We want everyone to understand that Kwanzaa is not just meant for the seven days during that time of the year, but should be a year-round thing. People should practice those principles every day of their lives," she said.
Another location
The Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church will also hold its annual Juneteenth festivities over the weekend. The church has been holding a weekend-long Juneteenth celebration for three years.
The Rev. Lewis Macklin, pastor of Holy Trinity, said the celebration will include the food and fun of the past but also a push for community services such as testing for lead in homes with children under age 6. He said there will also be, in conjunction with the health department, free and confidential HIV testing and information.
The Rev. Mr. Macklin said Saturday will begin with the Holy Ground Campaign -- where religious leaders walk a several-block radius to reminder residents of their ability to control and stop undesirable activity in their neighborhoods.
The celebration will end with an outdoor worship service Sunday morning at the church.
Both Mr. Macklin and Hudson said there are enough blacks in the area to make both Juneteenth celebrations a success with participants having fun and learning from both observances.