East New York observes annual Juneteenth celebration

Familial connection: Young brothers Hailu and Ermias James, at the ninth annual Juneteenth celebration at Gershwin Park in East New York on June 16.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Hundreds participated in the festive ninth annual Juneteenth celebration at Gershwin Park in East New York on June 16. The yearly event celebrating June 19, also known as Juneteenth — the emancipation of slavery in Texas, honors that milestone with an all-day community get-together. Featuring a talent show, music, arts and crafts, and dancing, the day was especially filled with a lot to see for newcomers, according to one attendee.

“It was my first time going to this and it turned out very well,” said Canarsie designer Nicole Brown. “I’ve heard of Juneteenth over the years to the extent where it peaked my interest, but when I found out about this — I thought ‘Wow it’s a great idea.’”

Brown, who came to vend and sell several of her religious empowerment tee shirts, wishes she got to take part in more activities, particularly tasting some of the cuisine.

“I didn’t get to sample as much food as I wanted, but nonetheless it was very pleasant,” she said.

One of her favorite moments of the day was an appearance by a mature musical dance troupe, which marched and danced.

“I’m a music girl and anywhere there’s a stage and music I gravitate to, and when they had a marching band with a more senior group line dancers doing the electric slide, I thought that was so cool,” said Brown.

She said she was already planning her second return to the event because she loved how it brought people of different backgrounds to celebrate a significant event for the African Diaspora.

“I think they’ve done an awesome job with Juneteenth,” said Brown. “Umoja events has been doing this for nine years and will be going on to its tenth year, and they’re bringing different cultures, ethnicities, and creatives together on one platform.

“We are people of ingenuity and to have a platform to be open, allows us to express our creativity through dance, art, music, jewelry, and use our own history to create an awesome experience for it.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com. Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.
Culture wrap: Vendor TJ of Fashions by TJ shows her headwrap designs.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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