Sacramento Juneteenth, Inc. will hold its 18th annual festival and celebration recognizing the freeing of enslaved Black Americans on June 19 in William Land Park.
This year’s Juneteenth celebration, scheduled from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, will be an in-person affair focused around maintaining healthy communities in the aftermath of a worldwide pandemic.
Event founder Gary Simon said the event should raise awareness that the “COVID-19 epidemic showed us that our health is the most important aspect of life.”
“This year’s theme is ‘Getting Serious About Our Health,’” Simon told The OBSERVER. “The epidemic revealed the disparities in health care for Black and minority communities. As a result, pre-existing medical conditions magnified the long-term damage caused by COVID and increased Black death rates.”
The Sacramento County Public Health Department will be one of the vendors distributing information about testing for COVID-19 and getting vaccinated.
“The county health department is going to be one of our partners and will offer vaccinations at the event once we iron out those details,” Simon said.
The celebration will address how the community was affected by sheltering in place, wearing face masks and social distancing.
Simon said Black youth will need the most mental support in the post-pandemic phase.
“Many minority youth did not have the capability to attend school virtually,” he said. “As a result, many experienced mental health issues, feelings of isolation, depression, suicide and anxiety. It needs to be addressed, however, there were no mental health options or resources in place to assist. We will offer those services at the Juneteenth celebration.”
The Sacramento Juneteenth, Inc. is an educational and health-wellness organization that has produced Sacramento’s annual Juneteenth Festival for the past 18 years.
Juneteenth is the national celebration that recognizes the end of slavery — which came two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. The proclamation declared all those enslaved were now freed, however, word did not get to Blacks in Galveston, TX until June 19 1895.
As a result of COVID-19, a condensed program this year will include food-ware vendors, live entertainment, the presentation of “Community Soldier Awards,” a keynote speaker, arts and education pavilion, health and wellness row, appearances from dignitaries.
This year is also the first-ever “Juneteenth Art Contest and Exhibition.” Simon and his staff have partnered with Project 25 Art Gallery to host the Juneteenth themed exhibit featuring local and national artists.
In addition, Sacramento Juneteenth Inc. is still accepting applications for sponsorship for individuals and organizations that recognizes the celebrations as one of the most momentous occasions in American history.
Sponsorship benefits include booth space, company logo on all promotions, inclusion of radio and television promotions, and a main-stage address and appearance regarding the importance of getting vaccinated.