Juneteenth returns with fun and a renewed purpose

This year’s Juneteenth festival will be a place for history, healing, and community, organizers say.

Part of that healing comes with narrowing the health disparity between the Black community and others, organizer Lindsay Cherry says. Alongside the kids’ games and food trucks at this year’s Juneteenth festival will be a COVID-19 vaccine clinic and a voter registration drive.

“We need to go deeper and connect people to what they need. … It’s the idea of atonement: Giving back to the Black community what it needs, meeting people where they are at,” Cherry says. “Us offering the vaccine at this festival is saying ‘if we want things to get back to normal, this is the route that seems to be the best and the safest, and we can trust the science.’” 

To register for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine clinic, register online. Some walk-in appointments will be available. Those wishing to register to vote need a document with their current address such as a state ID, current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government check, other government document.

Events

Holland’s Juneteenth celebration will be 4-8 p.m. Saturday, June 19, at Kollen Park, 240 Kollen Park Drive. 

4-6 market and vendors, food, kids corner
6-7:30 Showcase 
7:30 Reception for area Black graduates and their families
 
The Juneteenth holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, when the enslaved people of Texas were the last to learn that slavery had been abolished in America, and that they were free — more than two years after the adoption of the 13th Amendment that codified their freedom.

Of course, there will be the blow up jump houses and food trucks typical to a festival, but there will also be the Community Freedom Market with a mix of small business owners. There will also be booths from social well being organizations such as mental health, education, housing, physical health, outdoor activities.

History is fun

A kids’ corner will have fun games and activities to help children learn about Black history beyond slave times, back to kings and queens in Africa.

Isaiah Reynolds, who won the 2021 Holland Youth Social Justice Award and Principal Leadership Award at West Ottawa High School, will be one of the speakers. He also spoke at the Unity March last year.

Volunteers and vendors

The Juneteenth festival is still accepting volunteer and vendor applications. For details email [email protected]

“We want it to be a space where we are building unity and healing can take place and we can all come together as a community,” says Lindsay Cherry who is also co-founder of I AM Academy.

Continuity

The nonprofit — run by Cherry and her husband, Henry Cherry — empowers Black students and has taken over the festival this year. 

“Unfortunately, (Juneteenth) has been lacking the consistent organization to keep it going,” Lindsay Cherry says.

She hopes I AM Academy can provide that continuity for years to come. 

Juneteenth is being sponsored by several area groups such as Haworth, Hope College’s Multicultural and Diversity Center, and others and has a committee of people to support the event.
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