Over 200 people came to Central Park Saturday to celebrate Juneteenth, coming together for celebration, reverence and fun without the cloud of the pandemic keeping people home.
The Juneteenth event was hosted by SCV For Change, a local community organization that has been hosting Black Lives Matter protests and community services like donation drives throughout the last year. This was the second annual Juneteenth event put on by the organization, and months of planning went into this year’s celebration.
“It was a lot of back and forth with the city, unfortunately we weren’t able to get a permit. We had a food truck that was planned, they had a family emergency so we weren’t able to get a food truck,” Lauryn Valley, co-founder of SCV For Change, said. “It was months of planning, and then it kind of fell apart in the last few weeks. It was scattered, but we made it happen.”
The country’s newest federal holiday commemorates the date in 1865 that Major General Gordon Granger delivered General Order No. 3 — the fulfillment of the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation — to enslaved people in Galveston, Texas — over two and a half years after the proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln. On June 17, President Joe Biden signed a bill passed by Congress and the Senate making June 19 a federal holiday.
SCV For Change set up multiple activities for all ages, such as a tie-dye station, live music and a $2-raffle supporting Black-owned businesses like The D.W. Cookie Co. and Krissy’s Handmade. The event was focused on celebrating Black culture, and the overwhelming sense of community and unity was apparent.
Also in attendance at the event was the Santa Clarita chapter of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), who had set up a table with information and ways for attendees to sign up and become a member.
“NAACP was started 112 years ago, and we are the largest and the oldest civil rights activist group in the nation,” said Valerie Bradford, NAACP chapter president. “Just recently, as a matter of fact, May 29, we had our final elections and we were established here in Santa Clarita. We are excited to be here, and we are looking at bringing cultural awareness and education to our community. We are looking to work with Mayor Bill Miranda and with the Sheriff’s department and with the city council to just bring about change here and make everyone happy here. We started developing those relationships and looking forward to some change.”
Throughout the day, live music was performed for the crowd. Local musician Zoe Rex ended the night, performing her mix of relaxing and upbeat music and asking the audience what music they felt like hearing. Rex performed during last year’s Juneteenth event and asked the organizers to return this year.
“I’ve been doing music since probably my freshman year of high school, but I started really taking it seriously like my junior year of high school,” Rex said. “I just like connecting with people. That’s always kind of been my thing. That’s why I talk to the crowd. I like talking to people and sharing my art with people. To me, it’s like an intimate kind of thing.”
Local musicians Diamond Logs and Tega also performed Saturday.
Event attendees were able to safely interact with old friends and meet new people for one of the first times since the start of the pandemic. The event felt like a breath of fresh air while also celebrating an important cause.
“My favorite part of SCV For Change’s Juneteenth event for 2021 was probably the vibe of the live music, and getting to see all of my favorite people in a place where everybody’s gathered for something good, and to commemorate something,” said Olive, a co-founder of the group SCV For Equal Opportunity and an event attendee. “I feel like events focused on an actual important day rather than just arbitrary ones always get more people, and not only that, it’s always a little more fun because you know you’re there for a good reason.”
SCV For Change plans on hosting a Juneteenth event each year to celebrate this critical national holiday.
To support the organization in hosting this event and more, you can donate through their GoFundMe, CashApp or PayPal. To stay up to date on future events, follow SCV For Change on Instagram and check their website for more information.
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