By ONME Newswire
This year, many Juneteenth festivities throughout California have expanded into week long celebrations, from educating the masses about the historical American holiday to celebrating through the arts and entertainment.
It is exceptionally noticeable: as the acceptance of the holiday continues, many elected officials have felt comfortable speaking about the wrongs of America during and after slavery toward Black Americans.
In Santa Clara County, one Juneteenth block-party stood out in the middle of Downtown San Jose, where elected officials from the California Senate, state assembly, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, city of San Jose mayor, city of Cupertino mayor, and city of Morgan Hill mayor all participated in the grand affair.
This is the African American Community Service Agency's (AACSA) 41st year producing the Juneteenth in the Park Festival in San Jose.
With a wide variety of food, artwork, retailers, community services and local businesses, the Festival celebrates African American heritage and is an opportunity to educate the community on topics ranging from health to educational and financial literacy.
The celebration also included an awards ceremony to recognize members of the community as examples of business success, community advocacy, and community activism: Leader of the Year Awardee Aileen Frances Casanave, Community Impact Awardee Dr. Byron D. Clift Breland, Advocate of the Year Awardee Carmen Brammer, and Small Black Business Awardee Nirvana Soul.
Led by AACSA Executive Director, Milan R. Balinton, the AACSA Board is in full operation mode, offering enriching activities for members of the Black community and to service Santa Clara residents in general.
"This year, as the community is re-emerging after a long year of struggle, celebrating our resilience together will be especially meaningful," said the AACSA Board in a statement on their website.
It was the call of the African drums that sounded throughout Downtown San Jose to let the crowd know the event was about to begin; several people were pulled from the audience to join in the celebratory dance.
After a welcome from AACSA board member, Tammy Sanders, and getting permission from Elder Ellen to officially begin the event, Standford undergrad, Jaden Morgan, gave an empowering, historical rendition of the meaning of Juneteenth today, followed by an opening prayer and the singing of the Black National Hymn by Veronica Talton.
Resolutions and proclamations were presented by several elected officials: U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, California Senator Dave Cortese, Santa Clara Board of Supervisor Vice-President Susan Ellenberg (district 4), SC Board Member Otto Lee (district 3), SC Board Supervisor Cindy Chavez (district 2), CA State Assembly Member Alex Lee (district 25), State Assembly Member Ash Kalra (district 27), City of San Jose Vice Mayor Charles "Chappie"Jones, SJ City Councilperson Pam Foley (district 9), SJ City Councilperson Matt Mahan (district 10), and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Cupertino Mayor Darcy Paul and Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantine.
The ice hockey team, the San Jose Sharks, also presented a Juneteenth jersey in honor of the holiday.
Silicon Valley NAACP representative, Elizabeth Kamya, explained to the audience that although the holiday is national, many people still do not have the day off as a paid holiday.
Theatre teacher, Tavia Percia, introduced her students from the Oakland School for the Arts, who performed a passionate piece combined with music, movement and prose.
As these are just some of the key highlights from the program, the day and night continued with various talented performers on stage, and an eager crowd that swelled to several thousand diverse, people in downtown San Jose, enjoying the Juneteenth celebration.
In the Central Valley, Tulare County community leaders celebrated a successful, second annual Juneteenth celebration, according to 2022 event coordinator Grady Dodson.
Led by emecee elected official, Kimberly Tapscott-Munson, the city of Fresno also had its first; a Juneteenth Flag Raising Ceremony commenced in front of City Hall, Monday, June 20 with elected leaders speaking to the significance of the holiday for all Americans: Council President Nelson Esparza, Mayor Jerry Dyer, Pastor B.T. Lewis and Deputy Mayor Matthew Grundy, (see video excerpt after short Tulare video collage.)