The 4th Annual Juneteenth “A Family Affair Festival” 2006 will kick off Friday, with events scheduled this weekend at Garfield Park.
Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of black Americans from slavery more than 140 years ago. The nation and worldwide recognition of Juneteenth has gone onto recognize the triumphs and achievements of African-Americans throughout their history since.
Festivities around the world are annually planed around mid June.
The Chicago festival, runs from Friday June 16 to Monday, organized by community activists and drug abuse counselors Charles Jenkins, president of Juneteenth Chicago, NFP, and CEO Rickie Brown Sr.
This year’s festivities include entertainment and vendors over the weekend.
Ever mindful, though, of the importance of delivering a social message along with entertaining patrons, there will also be an “Emancipation Day Rally at the Thompson Center” on June 19.
The rally will begin at 9 in the morning in front of Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Van Buren, and conclude at the Thompson Center downtown.
“The rally will focus on the voter’s rights act, the Ex-Offenders Self-Sufficiency Act 2003 (proposed by Cong. Danny Davis), Higher Education Amendment Act, the importance of Treatment on Demand Legislation and showing support for the passing of the Second Chance Act (proposed by State Sen. Mattie Hunter), which would not only open up more programs that assist the children of incarcerated parents but it also would make clearer what is required to expunge criminal records,” said Brown.
Brown added that the Voter’s Rights Act is vitally important to the social welfare of African-Americans and should be a lock for reinstatement next year.
“My question is when Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 why incorporate a limit on it?” said Brown. “We clearly are American citizens who’ve given lives to wars and helped build this nation; why would it not be re-instated?”
Brown also mentioned the irony that would be involved if the act were somehow overturned.
“Tell the black soldiers maimed in Iraq that they can’t vote.” he said, “Tell blacks in power like Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice that they can not vote. That would be ridiculous.”
Along with the rally, another change in this year’s Juneteenth festivities will be the staging of its first annual parade on Saturday at 10 in the morning starting at John Marshall High School, 3250 W. Adams, and concluding at Garfield Park.
All of the events are about educating and entertain the community, and raising cultural awareness and pride to West Side families, Brown and Jenkins “Unifying our community is our main goal, and we
are asking all schools, businesses, organizations, and churches to participate in helping us achieve that goal,” said Jenkins.
In the three previous years of the Juneteenth Fest, sponsorship has been a big concern, Brown and Jenkins said.
Despite support this year from Ald. Ed Smith (28th), Cong. Danny K. Davis (7th) and Ald. Michael Chandler (24th), the event has failed to attract the level of support on the West Side, and other parts of the city like the South Side.
“The problem with attracting sponsors is the fact that many do not want in until you’ve proven you can attract a certain number of people, which of course is difficult to do without sponsors,” said Jenkins.
“In the three previous years, we’ve had close to 30,000 people attend, but we hope that people see what we are doing and the importance of our message and will decide to attend in greater numbers this year.”
The Juneteenth Festival will also include a school immunization CareVan to offer children immunizations. Among the personalities scheduled to appear is Fred Hampton Jr. discussing, among other things, his take on the controversy involving the naming of a West Side street sign after his father, the late Black Panther leader Fred Hampton.
There will also be a viewing of the Eyes Wide Open exhibit on the 200 black servicemen killed in Iraq. The display is of 200 pairs of boots, each representing a fallen soldier.
“In recent weeks there have been some
violent acts in the community,” Jenkins mentioned. “By holding this festival we hope to bring unity in our community. We ask all businesses, schools, organizations, churches, and religious group to participate in the parade and show the unity that does exist in the community.”
For more information about the Juneteenth Festival, call 773/580-9384, 773-981-4369 or visit http://juneteenthchicagoinc.tripod.com.