Juneteenth monument unveiled in Pomona
June 17, 2006
By Wendy Leung, Staff Writer (Daily Bulletin)
POMONA – The Juneteenth monument unveiled Saturday at Ganesha Park showcased a
message befitting the festive day.
“In order to celebrate ourselves, we need to see ourselves
celebrated,” author Randall Robinson’s words indicated on the
Despite blistering high temperatures, celebrate is just what
hundreds of residents did, as they sank their teeth into salty
catfish and listened to performers belt out gospel tunes.
The 17th Annual Pomona Valley Family Juneteenth Celebration
also included 40 vendors selling food, toys and clothing, while
many attendees took part in job and health fairs.
Juneteenth marks the date – June 19, 1865 – when Union troops
entered Galveston, Texas, to free the state’s slaves, almost two
and half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the
Emancipation Proclamation. It is considered the date when the
nation’s last slaves were freed.
The event brought Anaheim Hills resident Darlene Oliver, 47,
back to the city where she grew up. The former Ganesha High
student said there were more vendors and better music this year
compared to past Juneteenth celebrations.
“More people are bringing their kids, it’s a real nice
family thing,” Oliver said. “I mean why be stuck inside the
Although Juneteenth is celebrated across the country, the
monument in Pomona is the first to commemorate the holiday,
“It is said that July 4th freed the land and Juneteenth
freed the people,” said John Thompson, founder of Juneteenth America, a nonprofit group that works with
legislators on bringing prominence to the day.
Trudy Coleman and Thompson had been working toward Juneteenth
recognition since 1992, when she visited local legislators
including Assemblywoman Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, and Sen.
Nell Soto, D-Ontario, to get their support.
Few outside the black community knew then about Juneteenth and
many cast aspersions on Coleman’s work, as hate mail and angry
phone calls were common.
“People called up cursing, saying, ëWhy do you need
another holiday?’ You already have Black History Month,” Coleman
At the time, few took Coleman and Thompson seriously and some
doubted they could get backing from the Legislature.
In 2002, after Soto and McLeod had become major supporters,
California formally declared the third Saturday of June to be
Juneteenth National Freedom Day. There are currently 19 states
that recognize Juneteenth.
“It’s a significant movement,” Soto said. “People
have to know that this doesn’t come easy. It takes a lot of
Wendy Leung can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com
or by phone at (909) 483-9376.
Thank You to all our participants, supporters,
volunteers, vendors, sponsors, and staff for your long time involvement in
supporting Juneteenth America, Inc. and the African- American community in
achieving SB812 California’s Juneteenth National Freedom Day Observance
and the new California Juneteenth National Freedom Day Observance
Memorial. Without your support and involvement, the memorial, the holiday,
and the progress of Juneteenth across the nation could not have been
Listed Board Members
John H. Thompson, Sr.
Leslie N. Fountain