Juneteenth 2011 “We Hail from Kings and Queens” Saturday, June 18th 11am-6pm Southside Community Center Plain St & Cleveland Ave
ITHACA NY — Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865 some 2½ years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. The Juneteenth celebration in Ithaca began over 10 years ago by a small group of community volunteers and staff at the Southside Community Center. Despite some adverse conditions over the years, the community has come to expect, respect and participate fully in the Juneteenth festival hosted by the Southside Community Center. Indeed it has become an important component of summertime events in Tompkins County. This event has been staffed primarily by volunteers and designed to preserve and promote all aspects of African American heritage through educational and cultural activities that benefit the entire Tompkins County community.
This year’s theme, “We Hail from Kings and Queens” comes to remind us of the ancestry we posses as African Americans and of the rich cultural heritage we share with our brothers and sister of the African Diaspora. The message this theme sends is much needed at this time when a lot of our American youth are struggling with their identity. It is meant to encourage reflection, pride and hope in African Americans and counteract the negative media images that seem to plague the Black community.
The Juneteenth celebration is a time when people of all backgrounds come together to acknowledge and truthfully recognize the history of slavery in this country and its impact on our lives today. Activities to keep children engaged and educated, storytelling and dancing in the street are key components to any celebration. This is especially true for African American heritage celebrations. As told in history when the slaves learned of their freedom on June 19th, 1865, there was jubilation in streets, so has been offered through this celebration the opportunity for attendees to dance in the streets, listen to the stories about Juneteenth, and connect with each other.
The event showcases local talent. Local bands, youth performing groups and other performance artistes provide a rich cultural program that keeps attendees engaged, educated, lifted and having fun. This year we will have Thousands of One, Money Mars, Free Booty Institute, Danylito, Fe Nunn & Friends, The Nomads and a host of young talent who will be performing on our youth stage.
Along with providing an opportunity for neighborhood/community vendors to sell their wares, our Juneteenth celebration also provides a place for community service organizations to showcase their organization and gain exposure with a very diverse population. The event provides a safe, “fun” venue for community members to seek services or information about agencies that can assist them in meeting their needs without fear or intimidation or embarrassment.