BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — On Saturday at Yokuts Park, the first annual Juneteenth Celebration took place, honoring the end of slavery in America on June 19.
According to organizers, 500 people attended the event.
"It was all calm, we all celebrated and had fun," said 11-year-old attendee, Berry Newman. "Everybody that wasn't on the "goodest" [best] terms put their madness aside and came together to have a good time."
The celebration was surrounded by music, games for kids, Black business owners, and grilling.
Many attendees shared similar feelings about the celebration.
"One-word, unity," said Stanley Wilkins, an attendee. "It's not often that we see it. I honestly have never seen anything like this living here, so it was a good first experience."
The goal of the event is to honor June 19 known as Juneteenth.
"I was just celebrating my people. I was celebrating our freedom," said Haynes. "I was just here to love on my people because we need it right now. We are traumatized and we need each other to bring each other back to life."
It is the day also known as black independence, wherein 1865 Texas finally received orders that all slaves were officially free.
Even though two and a half years earlier the Emancipation Proclamation had already freed them.
"We are not treated fairly. We are not treated as equal Americans," said Bianca Haynes, a volunteer for the
Juneteenth Celebration. "So, just as important the 4th of July is to Americans that’s just how important Juneteenth is for us. It represents our freedom and freedom that we still haven’t fully attained. So we are out here proclaiming that we want that."
Now many are recommending for Juneteenth to be a holiday.
"We can not let it die, as far as educating the generations to come they need to be able to recognize what happened to us," said Danielle Simmons, a volunteer for the event. "So it definitely needs to be a holiday."
During the event, several community leaders spoke, including Congressman TJ Cox, the Black Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Goh’s office acknowledged the group for organizing the event.
The organizers share they planned the celebration in just three short weeks. The group says they are grateful for the outpouring support from their community.
"It was overwhelming and we didn’t do this to get any recognition," said Jenn Charles, one of the organizers of the event. "We just wanted our community to come together, come out, have fun, and enjoy each other."
The overall goal of the celebration was togetherness and to shed light on the issues plagued by the African American community.
"I feel like we don’t have fair privilege, like white privilege," Newman said. "We are untreated just because of our skin color, we could be shot or killed just because we are black and I think that’s unfair."