Juneteenth is around the corner

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The fifth annual Wayne community celebration of our latest national holiday, Juneteenth, will again take place at Bressler Park, West 9th and Lincoln Streets, on Wednesday, June 19, from 6-8 pm.

That ain’t Right (TAR), a local non-profit group supporting diversity and inclusion, invites the public to join in the free evening of festivities. These community members are passionate about celebrating freedom for all and sharing the history and culture of our African American neighbors.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when over 250,000 African American slaves finally heard they were free, two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. Major General Gordon Granger delivered the liberating news which was received with cries of joy and dancing in the streets of Galveston, Texas. Some of the slaves’ responses to the news were attached to Bressler trees last year, with nature providing an ideal classroom “blackboard.” This year historical, health-related posters will be put on trees.

Although Juneteenth has been observed annually in various parts of the country since that monumental announcement, it was not declared a national holiday until 2021. The City of Wayne made it an annual  holiday for its employees in 2022.

Endia Casey Agoumba, graduate of Leadership Wayne class of 2023 and Chair of TAR, asserted, “I am excited to celebrate this nation’s newest federal holiday in Wayne, Nebraska. For me, Juneteenth will always be a time to reflect upon the value of faith and perseverance. It is also a beacon toward the unity of all humankind. May we always strive to live in the light of love.”

 “Health, Humanity, and Dignity” is this year’s Juneteenth theme. In keeping with a central goal of TAR’s mission, “educate to elevate,” Dr. Barbara Engebretsen, professor of Health Sciences at WSC, will share her research into past and present health care  inequities in her family-friendly presentation, “What the Health is Going On?” with an eye toward striving for equal public health care for all.

Dr. Engebretsen will also lead a voluntary 1,400 step (about 3/4 mile) walk  to Freedom Park at the end of the event to commemorate the 1,400 mile walk Ms. Opal Lee, at the age of 89, made to advocate for Juneteenth’s becoming a National Holiday. By 8 p.m., any earlier heat will have moderated to make this a comfortable as well as meaningful, healthful activity.

Other fun activities will include singing of the Black National Anthem (“Raise Every Voice and Sing”) other lively music throughout, several fun games, trivia from 1953, chalking the walk, a raffle or quiz for a Juneteenth tee-shirt, and recognition of Fathers Day with some dad jokes. Attendees are welcome to  share their own dad jokes.