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Central Coast communities celebrate Juneteenth for the first time as a federal holiday

Posted at 9:30 PM, Jun 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-20 18:49:44-04

Throughout the Central Coast, community members celebrated Juneteenth for the first time as a federal holiday.

Juneteenth celebrations were held across San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties commemorating the end of slavery after Congress and President Joe Biden created a federal holiday to observe the historic moment.

The federal holiday was marked with dancing, cooking, and lessons in history.

“It’s the first official Juneteenth federally, which is really exciting and I’m glad that we’re able to celebrate it out here with a bunch of beautiful human beings. I feel good,” Black Lives Matter Community Action Co-organizer, Joshua Powell, said.

Community members said they’re glad to have a space to gather as a minority in San Luis Obispo County.

“Given the fact that people are putting on this event for people like me to celebrate us in a place that we’re not very prominent. It means a lot to me,” Dionte Woodmore, who celebrated Juneteenth, said.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19th, 1865, the day that slaves in Texas were finally declared free more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

“It’s just a reminder that African-Americans have come so far,” Classy Glass owner, Ogo Agbo, said.

The Black Lives Matter Community Action Group has been fundraising for weeks to put on a Juneteenth event.

“We sold stickers. We sold posters. We sold pins. On top of that, some really good donations," Powell said.

They used the money to pay for the park permit, food and performers. Powell said all the work to put on the event at Mitchell Park was worthwhile after seeing the community come together and celebrate Juneteenth.

“I’m really really happy. I’ve grown up in San Luis Obispo my whole life and I’m really glad that they are actually having an event to honor Juneteenth,” Agbo said.

“I just feel proud. Even though we have a long way to go. I feel that we are going to get there. We just have to come together," Adrian Spears, who also celebrated Juneteenth, said.

Now that President Joe Biden established Juneteenth as a federal holiday, community members say they’re appreciative, but there’s still more work to do.

“We need to start talking about Juneteenth a lot more. We need to start talking about Black history as something more than Martin Luther King Jr. and Harriet Tubman, because there’s a vast, vast history,” Powell said.

The Black Lives Matter Community Action Group added that people can continue celebrating the Black community beyond Juneteenth by supporting local Black-owned businesses and continuing to be part of the fight for racial justice.