This year, Tracy African American Association will not celebrate its annual Juneteenth Festival at Lincoln Park because of the cancellation of many events by the city of Tracy due to COVID-19.
This year is the organization’s 26th Juneteenth Festival and it will not gather and enjoy food, entertainment, and scholarship at the park. However, as members of a community that honors education and our children’s future, there will be a virtual awards ceremony to bestow scholarships on several graduated seniors.
TAAA, in partnership with sponsors, donors, educators, dignitaries, special guests and members, will celebrate on July 18 by hosting a Virtual Education and Health Conference to honor the young scholars and receive health information.
There are Juneteenth events all over the area this weekend that can easily be Googled.
Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19 and is the date that African Americans celebrate and honor the African American slaves who discovered they were free from slavery. It was on June 19, 1865, that Union soldiers, led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was 2½ years AFTER Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation — which had become official Jan. 1, 1863. The celebration of June 19 is a time for reassuring each other, for eating, for praying and for gathering family members.
I am finding during our COVID-19 pandemic, the pandemic of racism and the pandemic of “not in my backyard” — my mind always moves in the direction of our children. Our children are struggling, y’all; they are overburdened with adult problems and their ability to process is being crushed. We must do better. We must give them time to play without bombarding them with negativity. We must go for a walk, spend time in the outdoors, and enjoy the company of fresh air and warm breezes. We must celebrate family and honor different views. We must speak with compassion and model understanding. This generation needs adults to be adults.
Our children’s future is tied to our present. Like the slaves back in 1865 who suddenly were free — they had nowhere to go, never being given the ability to dream beyond their tether. Our children’s dreams must not be tethered. Juneteenth is about family, about generations to come, about the faith that dreams do come true. We need family now more than ever.