SF Juneteenth Celebration and NAACP Unity Weekend

Crowd checks out vendors at last year’s Juneteenth Festival.

The San Francisco Juneteenth Committee and the San Francisco Chapter of the NAACP are holding the 63rd Annual Juneteenth Celebration and NAACP Unity Weekend in the Fillmore District, between Geary and Eddy Streets, on Saturday, June 15 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Juneteenth celebration activities include: live musical performances from local artists; a kick-off parade with special appearances by Mayor Ed Lee and Board of Supervisors London Breed and Malia Cohen; free health screenings and community resources/merchandise. There also will be a  car show; arts and crafts booths and a variety of food vendors, children’s activities including a Kids Zone with pony rides, a petting zoo, and jumpers. The event is free and open to the public. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration among African Americans across the country commemorating the announcement of the end of slavery in the United States.  It has been an African American tradition since the late 19th century.  Economic and cultural forces caused a decline in Juneteenth celebrations beginning in the early 20th Century. The Depression forced many African Americans off farms and into the cities to find work.  In these urban environments, employers were less eager to grant leaves to celebrate this date.  July 4th was already established as an Independence Day holiday, and a rise in patriotism among African Americans steered people toward this celebration. The Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s yielded both positive and negative results for the Juneteenth celebrations. While it pulled many of the African American youth away and into the struggle for racial equality, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors. Again in 1968, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through the Poor Peoples March to Washington, D.C.  Rev. Ralph Abernathy called for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor. Many of these attendees returned home and initiated Juneteenth celebrations in areas previously absent of such activity. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Juneteenth continued to enjoy a growing interest from communities and organizations throughout the country as African Americans have an interest to see that the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten. Many see roots tying back to Texas soil from which all remaining American slaves were finally granted their freedom. This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln on Jan.1, 1863. It also marks the 50th anniversaries of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (Aug. 28, 1963), where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech; the assassination of Medgar Evers, the NAACP’s 1st National Field Director in Mississippi (June 12, 1963); and the letter from Birmingham Jail (April 16, 1963) written by Dr. King. For information on becoming a health fair or booth vendor please contact: Rachel Townsend, event coordinator at (510) 692-2514 or by email at sfjuneteenth@sbcglobal.net
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