Black Lives Matter, Santa Barbara, and the Lower Westside Community Center, known primarily as El Centro, invite the community at large to their first annual Juneteenth Celebration & Family Cookout Saturday, June 16th from noon until 3 pm. Held at El Centro, this event continues an African American tradition of celebrating of the end of slavery with interactive art, song, and food.
The first Juneteenth celebration on June 19th, 1865 in Galveston, Texas marked the day Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and issued General Order Number 3 enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation:
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”
Prior to this act Texas, isolated politically and geographically from much of the country, resisted emancipation and continued the practice of enslavement.
“Although General Granger and his news of freedom were celebrated,” said Simone Baker, community organizer of Black Live Matter and El Centro. “The full text of the order made clear that progress would be slow going, as enslaved people were encouraged to stay and work for their former owners and instructed to refrain from idleness. The first Juneteenth celebrated the federal government for acknowledging black personhood but allowed space for black folks to organize and plan for the long struggle towards full citizenship. I’m passionate about seeing this tradition continued in Santa Barbara as it is also an acknowledgment of the work still needing to be doing to create more equitable communities.”
African American communities across the country have marked Juneteenth with celebration and organizing efforts centered on supporting and uplifting Black life. Black Lives Matter, Santa Barbara, and El Centro has brought this celebration to Santa Barbara County and hope that community members can attend the celebration on June 16th at El Centro at 629 Coronel Place, Santa Barbara, California 93101.
“It is really important for us to celebrate moments in our history of liberation.” Noted Chiany Dri, community organizer for Black Lives Matter, Santa Barbara, “our communities are vibrant, creative, and deserve recognition for our own efforts towards our own liberation and joy. Celebrating Juneteenth goes beyond just celebrating this pivotal moment in history, but serves as a way for the black community to come together and celebrate who we are and all that we have contributed and continue to contribute to this country. It is a moment for us to celebrate black joy, innovation, and community, together.”