Community celebrates Juneteenth on Delaney Park Strip
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A celebration of Juneteenth drew crowds to downtown Anchorage over the weekend, as food, vendors, and performances were featured along the Delaney Park Strip.
“We look at it like it’s a second Independence Day,” said Erin Jackson of Stand Up Alaska, “And for some of us, we feel like it’s our first Independence Day.”
Juneteenth marks a historic moment in time, especially for Black communities across the country.
The federally-recognized holiday commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, including but not limited to President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and a major general’s arrival to Galveston, Texas with news of that signing on June 19, 1865.
“We have a lot of Alaskans who are African American, a lot of Alaskans who are from the South, so even though it didn’t happen in Alaska, it still impacts Alaskans,” said Juneteenth Anchorage President Jasmin Smith. “A lot of people have roots that are tied to Juneteenth in other states and communities.”
The holiday, however, doesn’t only honor a day in history or celebrate progress. It’s also an inspiration, Jackson said, for the present and the future.
“We want everybody to understand their power, and that is one of the things that Juneteenth is about,” she said. “It’s about an expression of power, even when you feel powerless.”
Rozlyn Grady-Wyche, founder of the Alaska Coalition of BIPOC Educators, said Juneteenth is a celebration, but also an educational opportunity.
“As I was growing up, I just knew that this was a day that I was supposed to come out and enjoy our city; I did not know the historical context of it,” she said. “So Juneteenth is a date that means, to me, more education that equals freedom. If we’re not educated, then we are not free.”
Juneteenth as a holiday may formally be one day of the year, but, as Grady-Wyche and Jackson explained, it can continue to educate people for years to come.
“It’s a community event that kind of brings everybody together, and educates them about Black issues, Black hair, the different Black entrepreneurs that we have in Alaska that a lot of folks don’t know about,” Jackson said. “This is just a showcase, and it’s wonderful to see Anchorage come out in support.”
Smith said this was the first year that the larger Juneteenth celebrations in Anchorage took place over a two-day span.
Correction: This article was corrected to reflect the date that the major general arrived in Galveston, Texas, to bring news of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
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