Celebration and Mourning at IC Area Juneteenth

Participants in IC’s 2015 Juneteenth Celebration can sign a giant sympathy card for the city of Charleston, NC -- image provided by the Johnson County Community Juneteenth Committee
Participants in IC’s 2015 Juneteenth Celebration can sign a giant sympathy card for the city of Charleston, NC — image provided by the Johnson County Community Juneteenth Committee

IC Area Juneteenth Celebration

The Robert A. Lee Recreation Center — Saturday, June 27 at 12 p.m.

The Johnson County Community Juneteenth Committee will hold their fifth annual celebration this Saturday to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the end of slavery in the United States. This year’s theme is “Understanding the Struggle: The Journey Continues.”

Following a moment of silence and nine ceremonial rings of a bell — one for each victim of the shooting at Chartleson’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church — the release of 150 helium balloons will open the ceremony at 12:45 p.m.

According to the African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids, “This cultural holiday is equally important as Independence Day by marking an end to an historical period of oppression, leading to the beginnings of a new life for the nation’s African American Population.”

Because the Emancipation Proclamation (which was issued on Jan. 1, 1863) only freed slaves in limited areas, the practice of slavery continued in much of the Union-controlled states and in some parts of the so-called Confederacy. On June 19, 1865, news of the Proclamation reached Confederate Galveston, Texas, freeing some of the last slaves in America.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the end of this dark chapter of our Nation’s history. African American history and heritage will be celebrated throughout the event in honor of the strength of those who suffered the horrors of slavery in America and gave their blood, sweat and tears to build the nation.

Following the opening ceremonies, a reading by the winner of the Iowa City Human Rights Commissions’ Youth Essay and Art Contest will take place. The event will offer free music and live entertainment throughout the day. Performances by Funk Daddies, The Community Drumming Circle, Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre and many local youth groups in the area will take place on indoor and outdoor stages. A bouncy house, face painting and water games will be available for children to enjoy. To benefit the DeGowin Blood Center, a health and resource fair and a blood drive will also take place, and prizes will be awarded to the first 20 people to give blood.

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