Juneteenth celebrations held across San Diego County


SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Celebrations of Juneteenth were being held across San Diego County Saturday at Palomar Mountain, Logan Heights, the Old Globe outdoor theater in Balboa Park, and a bike ride from Mission Bay to Chicano Park, National City, Chula Vista and Imperial Beach.

June 19, 1865, is the day when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, and announced to more than 250,000 enslaved Blacks that they were free by executive decree.

A bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday was signed into law Thursday by President Joe Biden.

On Saturday a group of Black leaders and educators held a news conference at the World Beat Cultural Center, 2100 Park Blvd., in Balboa Park to push the San Diego Unified School District to implement Juneteenth in history curriculum.

On Saturday morning at City Hall in National City, several Black cycling clubs from throughout the region joined in raising the Juneteenth flag for the first time. The cycling groups then went on a bike ride, taking them through San Diego from Mission Bay to Coronado.

San Diego State University was set to host a Juneteenth celebration open house commemorating the life of Palomar Mountain’s first Black resident, Nathan “Nate” Harrison. A team of anthropology students were concluding an excavation at Harrison’s original hillside homestead.

In Logan Heights Memorial Park, 2975 Ocean View Blvd., a Juneteenth Freedom Festival was scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday with Brothers Igniting a Groove, African drum dances, arts, speakers and vendors. The festival was to be hosted by the Cooper Family Foundation.

At noon, the Old Globe Theater, 1363 Old Globe Way, was scheduled to host a Juneteenth celebration in its outdoor theater. This event includes live painting throughout by Huelove, poetry and music by performers Joy Yvonne Jones, Zack King, and Khalil Bleux from the San Diego Black Artist Collective, a choir performance by David Dredden and Undefeated, a Juneteenth storytelling by poet Alyce Smith Cooper, a comedy set by Kree Rushing and poetry by Sharrif Simmons.

At 1 p.m. at Pepper Grove Park in Balboa Park, a Juneteenth 2021 event was being presented by Artists 4 Black Lives SD, featuring artists, vendors and community members “to not only celebrate Juneteenth, but to protest systemic racism and police brutality,” organizers said.

On Friday, as part of an effort to celebrate the diversity of San Diego’s residents, Mayor Todd Gloria was joined by Councilwomen Monica Montgomery Steppe and Marni von Wilpert, his Black Advisory Group, and members of the public to declare Juneteenth in the city.

“Juneteenth marks the day freedom was realized for Black slaves in this country,” Gloria said. “Though it was over 100 years ago, our Black community still wades through the traumatic effects of slavery and its residue of injustice.”

Montgomery Steppe, the sole Black San Diego city council member, said: “As African Americans, we must preserve our culture and teach our history, including the true meaning of Juneteenth.”

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