|Richmond Juneteenth Celebration Promotes
June 14, 2009
Richmond Juneteenth celebration promotes healing, togetherness
Posted: 06/13/2009 12:09:51 PM PDT
Updated: 06/13/2009 05:32:41 PM PDT
Soul singer Lenny Williams, a Bay Area favorite since his days handling lead vocals with Tower of Power, is back to headline the entertainment at the sixth annual Juneteenth Family Day Parade & Festival on Saturday in Richmond.
The celebration of the end of slavery in the United States, a tradition dating back to the end of the Civil War, starts with a parade that departs at 10 a.m. sharp from Marina Way and Cutting Boulevard. The procession will go up Cutting to 37th Street, travel to Macdonald Avenue and Nicholl Park at 33rd and Macdonald.
The parade route was moved to Cutting in part because of construction on Macdonald. Also, "We thought it was a great way to include the southern part of the city so they could experience the Juneteenth Parade," said Michele Milam, one of the organizers.
"We're still inviting high school graduates to come and walk in the parade in cap and gown or some kind of school identifier if they can," she said.
This year's parade grand marshals are retired Judge George D. Carroll and police Commissioner Naomi Williams, chosen by the National Brotherhood Alliance for their contributions to the community. The alliance co-sponsors the event with the city.
The free festival at Nicholl Park runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and includes a main stage, youth stage, children's play area and expo, community resource and vendor booths and plenty of food for sale. Live entertainment will feature gospel, hip-hop, R&B and blues. In addition to Lenny Williams, acts will include annual favorite Jesse James and Sam Bostic, formerly of Art and Soul.
Youth stage performers will include Young Bari and 19-year-old R&B sensation Sammie. Gospel performers will include Endurance, Down One, GODFEAR, Martha B, Betty Stewart & Stars of Glory, Purchase, Righteous Singers and the St. John Missionary Baptist Church Men's Chorus.
The roots of Juneteenth come from Galveston, Texas, where a spontaneous celebration began when slaves finally learned in 1865 that they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, issued two years earlier by President Abraham Lincoln.
There will be reminders of the day's historic importance during the festival.
"I think sometimes we lose the history," Milam said. "We think that this year the day is even more significant with the election of a black president."
Just as important, she said, Juneteenth is a day for people of all backgrounds to come together.
"We want to take the time to reflect, but also to really rejoice," Milam said. "This year's celebration focuses on community unity and community peace. It all focuses on bringing the community together and promoting healing."