South Euclid’s second annual Juneteenth celebration is scheduled for June 19 at Garfield Memorial Church

SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio – How many local communities are preparing to celebrate June 16 for the first time this year after it has already been June 2021 made a national holidaythis will be the second year of celebrations for South Euclid.

South Euclid early celebrated the day reminiscent of 1865 liberation of enslaved blacks, after the end of the Civil War through an event at the Garfield Memorial Church, 1534 S. Green Road. The city will again hold its June 16 celebration at the church on June 19 this year from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

An afternoon of fun activities is promised. “It’s a family-friendly event,” said one of the organizers of the event, Councilwoman Chanell Elston. “We have a DJ playing music, yoga (with Rashida VanLeer), basketball (teen’s game) and two poets – Raja Belle Freeman and (South Euclid Poet Laureate) Doc Janning. And we will have vendors and food trucks, some of them different than last year.”

Proposed vendors include Stephanie Stewart of P31 Art & Design, who sells t-shirts, candles and personalized products; Gina Gilleylen of Beauty By Gi Nicole LLC, a hair care provider; Chase’s Lemonade Stand; Denise Smith of From Scratch Cookies ‘n More!; Humble Mornings Coffee Co.; Jowan Smith with children’s books; Annessa Slater of Tropical Sno Snow Cones; The 4 bistro wine bar; Heavenly Treats; and squash the beef.

Elston encouraged families to attend and celebrate Father’s Day, which is also observed on June 19.

The event is sponsored by the city MYCOMand the Garfield Memorial Church and its pastor Scott Blevins.

Speaking of the significance of the day, Elston said: “Unfortunately, there are many parts of black history that are not taught. Look at Tulsa, Oklahoma and Black Wall Street (1921) for example. The celebration and recognition of June 16 is part of this history.

“This is an opportunity for the city to get involved in changing that narrative. History is a reflection of fact, and as a city we want to do our part to ensure that our reflection is inclusive. We are very happy to be able to use our platforms to bring people together. Not only to learn about the meaning of June 16th, but also to celebrate it.”

Another organizer of the event is South Euclid Community Development Director Keith Benjamin.

“June 16 is important as a national holiday because it commemorates what our country has been through, with an emphasis on slavery and abolition,” Benjamin said. “June 16th should be a call for all of us to reflect on the meaning of freedom, especially as it relates to African Americans and minorities in this country and around the world.

“It’s important because it’s about how we define citizenship in this country and enforce equal rights for all.”

Regarding the venue, Benjamin said, “Garfield Memorial Church stepped up their game last year and presented the event alongside the City of South Euclid, which they are doing again this year. The city enjoys working with our community partners and religious institutions, and Juneteenth is just another example of how we partner and work with religious institutions to host events and discuss important issues.”

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