Juneteenth committee finalizes plans for weekend event

The Juneteenth 2014 Celebration Committee recently met to finalize plans for the 19th annual Juneteenth Celebration to be held in the City of Dunkirk. Celebration days for this year will be Saturday and Sunday in Memorial Park on Lake Shore Drive West in Dunkirk.

Juneteenth is an occasion to celebrate and commemorate one of the most important events in American history. On Sept. 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation stating that on Jan. 1, 1863, he would declare the slaves free who resided in states which did not return to the Union. It was on June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, with General Order No. 3 advising that the war had ended and the enslaved were now free. In the late 1800s, Texas started celebrating Juneteenth, which today, is a state holiday. Over the years, the celebration has spread to other states.

In 1996, citizens of the Dunkirk-Fredonia community co-sponsored the first Juneteenth Celebration to be observed in Chautauqua County. The main goal of this celebration is to commemorate and perpetuate the heritage, cultural and contributions of African Americans. Juneteenth is a family-based event with a wide variety of entertainment, historical and cultural.

A new attraction this year is a performance by Pure Ink Poetry Slam of Buffalo led by founder Brandon Williamson. Pure Ink will also conduct a poetry slam class for those in attendance. Pure Ink recently competed in the Empire State Slam and the QEW International Poetry Slam in Canada, winning first place in both.

For information, contact the following 2014 committee chairs: Juneteenth Auction Allison Harrison 335-8242; Vendors Sandra Lewis 672-2183; Health Information Laurie Williams 785-7900; Education Information Tasha Coleman 487-6039; Souvenir Journal Bianca Moore 467-0280; and Gospel Fest Frank Torain 363-1102.