Celebrating Juneteenth: Engage, Educate, Empower

Juneteenth Muncie, a celebration of freedom and unity, holds a special place in the hearts of many. Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, the day that enslaved African Americans of Texas, the westernmost Confederate state, got news from the Union Army that freedom had come – more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

This year’s fifth annual Juneteenth event, on June 15, promises to be nothing short of extraordinary. With its core values to engage, educate and empower, Juneteenth Muncie exemplifies inclusivity and community spirit.

For five years running, a dedicated group of 11 volunteers, led by the unrelenting spirit of Anitra Davis and her co-chair, Dorica Young-Watson, has orchestrated this grand celebration with a dedication to accessibility. Everyone in the community is welcomed with open arms. From free food and drinks to lots of fun activities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The event buzzes with excitement and energy, from cornhole to kickball tournaments and inflatables to wrestling matches. Live music, talent showcases, and even free food and treats like snow cones and popcorn add to the festivities.

But Juneteenth is more than just a day of fun and games. It’s an opportunity to honor history, engage with the past and educate ourselves. Through a captivating history walk and exhibits highlighting local and national struggles for freedom, organizers encourage attendees to reflect on the day’s significance. Juneteenth is about recognizing the shared history that binds us all. In that spirit, there will also be several community tables set up with local businesses and nonprofits to provide educational information and resources to residents.

The fifth annual Juneteenth event will take place on June 15 from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. at McCulloch Park, rain or shine.

“We need to come together,” said Young-Watson. “I want people to know the truth and deliver it in a way that respects those hearing it. My vision is not only to take up space, but to create it for other people. That’s why this is important, because if we don’t understand how something done in the past impacts someone today, then we can’t move the needle. I want us to all be in a place where we are happy, we’re healthy, we’re vibrant, and we’re the best versions of ourselves. Unfortunately, because of different levels of racism, there’s a lot of residue left over from predation for many years. So when I started thinking about those biases and those stereotypes, I realized we’ve got to be intentional about changing. That’s why I’m here and why I do what I do.”

For Young-Watson, the driving force behind this event, Juneteenth holds personal significance that extends beyond the event itself. Through initiatives like Representation Matters, the organizers aim to inspire the next generation to dream big and pursue their goals. By providing young people with opportunities to envision their futures and connect with professionals in various fields, they are laying the groundwork for a brighter tomorrow.

As preparations for this year’s Juneteenth continue, the committee remains steadfast in its mission. With the support of the community, and partnerships with organizations like the Indiana Black Expo Muncie chapter, Shafer Leadership Academy, Anthem, PrimeTrust, the Youth Opportunity Center, and many others, they continue to work hard to bring this labor of love to the Muncie community. It gets bigger and bigger each year, fueled by a shared vision of honoring history and promoting unity and progress.

The fifth annual Juneteenth event will take place on June 15 from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. at McCulloch Park, rain or shine. To learn more, visit juneteenthmuncie.com or email june19muncie@gmail.com. The event is free and open to all.

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