The celebration of Juneteenth, when the last of America’s slaves were finally freed, has been expanded in the Valley this year and will culminate with a daylong festival Saturday at Cal State Northridge.
Juneteenth, or June 19, commemorates the date in 1865 that slaves in parts of Texas and nearby states learned belatedly of the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been signed by President Abraham Lincoln more than two years earlier.
As in the past, the exact date will be marked with a community leaders breakfast. This year’s will begin at 7:30 a.m. Thursday at the Northeast Valley Multipurpose Community Center in Pacoima. African American elected officials and other leaders have been invited to attend.
In addition to the breakfast, Juneteenth has been expanded to include an essay contest and the festival. All are the result of a collaborative effort among African American staff members of Valley-area legislators.
Eight finalists from Valley middle and high schools will read and have their essays judged Friday beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Ritchie Valens Recreation Center, 10736 Laurel Canyon Blvd. in Pacoima. The students were encouraged to write about the importance of cultural holidays.
CSUN will host the Juneteenth Festival and Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday outside the Oviatt Library. The day’s activities will include a talent contest, health and information booths and an African marketplace with dozens of vendors offering art, music and apparel.
“Activities like this, especially the chance for African American arts and crafts vendors to display their work, are done in other parts of Los Angeles,” said Alex Tucker, field deputy for 7th District Councilman Richard Alarcon.
“We decided to bring some of these people to the Valley, and at the same time have an event that would be convenient for interested individuals in the Valley to attend.”
For more information about Juneteenth events, call (213) 957-7030.