POMONA >> Juneteenth will once again be celebrated at Ganesha Park..
The Juneteenth Family Gospel and Jazz Arts Festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Ganesha Park, 1575 N. White Ave. following a two-year hiatus and three of being away from the park.
The festival will take place 25 years after the first such celebration took place in Pomona commemorating a significant day in the nation’s history, said Trudy Coleman, the event’s organizer. Coleman along with John Thompson co-founded the festival.
Juneteenth goes back 150 years to June 19, 1865 when slaves were declared free in the state of Texas. On Jan. 1, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation but it only affected slaves in the rebel states and hundreds of thousands living in areas under Union control continued to live without freedom.
After the proclamation came the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and that ended slavery in the United States in 1865. Slaves in Texas became free when Union Gen. Gordon Granger made an announcement in Galveston that all slaves in the southwest were free June 19, 1865.
Juneteenth “ is such an important holiday for America,” said M. Joyce Bakersmith, an organizer of the 12th annual Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom. That celebration is put on by the Willie White Park Focus Group and Neighborhood Watch from 6:45 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. Thursday at the Willie White Park Community Center, 3065 Battram St.
June 19, 1865 is the day “when everybody was free. It was the first step to living up to the Declaration of Independence,” Bakersmith said.
Members of the public are invited to attend the Celebration of Freedom and bring a dish for the Freedom Feast which is followed by a talk presented by Christina Frausto, who will offer a presentation on the Underground Railroad.
Coleman, who heads the Juneteenth Education Technology Mobile Arts Center which works to bring knowledge of Juneteenth to youth through schools, said she has been working with Pomona and others to bring back the event to Ganesha Park.
A new component to Saturday’s event is a 5K walk and run at the park. Registration will be from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at the park and costs $5, Coleman said. The walk and run will begin at 9 a.m.
The walk and run are part of raising awareness to the importance of being health conscious and living a healthy lifestyle, Coleman said.
Throughout the day there will be live entertainment and sales of food, arts and crafts, she said.
Councilwoman Debra Martin, who has supported the return of the festival to Ganesha Park, said the festival and the Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom are events that are “about everybody’s freedom.”
They also serve as opportunities to remind youth of a significant date in the nation’s history, she said.
The festival does something else, Martin said.
“I really feel the soul of Ganesha Park, part of it is Juneteenth,” she said.
“We need to embrace these events. They are gold to our community.” Martin said