NORTHERN CALIFORNIA - There are several Juneteenth events you can attend for community celebration this weekend.
The event produced in Redding is virtual and features the music of an iconic singer, Nina Simone. We have embedded the Shasta County Arts Council video at the end of this article.
Chico and Oroville both had in-person events for 2021.
This is the first Juneteenth recognized as a national holiday and celebrations are happening across the country this weekend, including here in Chico.
A Juneteeth celebration is being held at Chico's historic Bethel AME Church on Linden Avenue over a three-day time span.
On Friday there was a drive-in movie and on Saturday morning fun, food, and fellowship featured barbeque and gumbo. The event was held in collaboration with the African American Family and Cultural Center; Bethel AME, and Life Granted.
“We are celebrating the anniversary of the end of slavery of 1865, it was the year that the last of the slaves were free in Galveston, Texas,” said Donell Thomas, admin for Black in Butte.
Black in Butte hosted the event, a group formed just one year ago.
“It started after the senseless murder of George Floyd and just wanted to create a space for us to come together and share our thoughts and feelings,” said Rachel Cwan, admin for Black in Butte. “It was also in the midst of a pandemic, so there was just a whole lot going on.”
People lined up for authentic gumbo and to support black owned businesses.
“We’ve got vendors, clothing, hair, jewelry, we got a cup designer on the team,” said Cwan.
But it really means something even more.
“It’s freedom on so many levels from the pandemic to seeing this become a federal holiday, and just seeing all the things that are happening,” said Cwan. “There is just so much to celebrate.”
As people are welcomed in they were able to sign their name on this board and leave a note, so that they could remember all the people that came to celebrate the day.
“My favorite part is watching the kids, seeing the kids here playing and being a part of the festivities,” said Ruth Gordon, MLK Unity group member. “You know, that is our future.”
It is a full weekend of festivities for Black in Butte.
They watched Black Panther at Meriam on Friday, hosted the celebration today and are having a church service at 11a.m. tomorrow.
“We want people to understand that we are equal and we should be treated as equal,” said Thomas. “And just highlight Juneteenth as the end of slavery and celebrate.”
Saturday from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. the African American Family and Cultural Center is celebrating Juneteenth and their 10th anniversary with an event. Juneteenth has been celebrated at the Center for the past nine years and is a popular place in Butte County to celebrate the day, now been recognized as a federal holiday for the first time.
The Redding event is actually online this year. According to the City of Redding, the usual organizer fell ill and had to take a break from those duties in 2021. The Shasta County Arts Council's director of SCAC-TV cable channels, Michael Flanagan, has been recording and editing for an all-weekend celebration featuring Songs of Freedom presented by Shasta County resident Lori McNeill and actor Donna Carroll Leonard.
Leonard has written a one-woman show about the life of Black songwriter/singer Nina Simone. Parts of that show are featured in the weekend's video presentations and in a video that is embedded at the bottom of this article.
The event called JUNETEENTH: Civil Rights Celebration Shasta County also features Patricia Lord in "Voices of the Golden Ghosts," and Jonathan Freeman speaking about "A History of Resilience."
The Arts Council's Flanagan shared this information from the 1900 census: African Americans made up 4.1% of Redding’s population, a much larger percentage than the 1900 statewide percentage of 0.75% and nearly 3.5 times their percentage of Redding’s population in the 2010 Census.
CLICK HERE to listen and watch the live stream of this event.
See below for a Youtube presentation produced by SCAC-TV, a service of the Shasta County Arts Council.