By Kia Croom
Richmond residents gathered at Nicholls Park to celebrate the city’s 9th annual Juneteenth Family Day Parade and Festival on Saturday June 16. The event Grand Marshal was Clarence Van Hook—“the singing cowboy.” The parade, sponsored by the Black American Political Action Committee (BAPAC), featured the Richmond Police Activities League (RPAL), the Black Cowboy Association, the historic Wells Fargo Wagon and its rider Dr. Denise Noldon, the Vallejo Corvette Club and many other groups and organizations. Community leaders, including Congressman George Miller, paid homage to the late Joe Eddy McDonald, City of Hercules Mayor, who died on Saturday, June 9. Upasi Mtambuzi of Black Women Organized for Political Action honored the late mayor with a libation ceremony. Congressman Miller presented legendary pioneer of P-Funk George Clinton with a Congressional Recognition Award in honor of his civil rights advocacy that led to the introduction of the Performance Rights Act in Congress. Dr. Oba T’Shaka, Professor Emeritus at San Francisco State University, discussed the history of the Juneteenth holiday, followed by an Afrocentric fashion show. A poetry slam followed, hosted by Mariah Flowers, a local student. Cash prizes and gifts were awarded to participants courtesy of local businesses, which included Cassandra’s Bakery, Century Theatre, Ashay by the Bay, Mama’s Kitchen at Hilltop and Regal’s Essence. Performers at the festival included George Clinton, 2012 Bay Area Blues Hall of Famers Original Kingdom Travelers, Ray McCoy and the Luther Vandross Tribute Band. “George Clinton and his people were great,” said Jerrold Hatchett, President of the National Brotherhood Alliance. “He (Clinton) really wanted to come to Richmond and commemorate Juneteenth with us, and so many volunteered to make it happen.” Sponsors of the celebration included Richmond Community Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, KDYA Gospel 1190, Allied Propane, Richmond Police Management Association, Mark & Christy Gagan, City of San Pablo, Neighborhood Housing Services of the East Bay, Sims Metal Management, the American Beverage Association, the Richmond Association of Professional Black Firefighters and BAPAC. Kia Croom is a contributing writer for the Richmond Post.