City, pastors group plan for first Juneteenth celebration

“The event is geared toward reflecting the journey and freedom of African Americans over the history.”

The city of Renton and Renton African-American Pastor’s group (RAAP) are hosting a Juneteenth celebration on June 16 and 19.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day slavery in the United States ended. It was on that day Major General Gordon Grander arrived at Galveston, Texas and announced the Civil War was over, two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which was delivered on Jan. 1, 1863.

“The event is geared toward reflecting the journey and freedom of African Americans over the history,” said Linda Smith, co-chair of RAAP. “Our work comes out of the police relationship we’ve developed over the past several years. Over the years we’ve tried to create conversation and dialogue in our community to work towards change that by deepening relationships.”

The event is the part of the partnership between the RAAP and RPD that formed in 2014 to foster trust between law enforcement and the city’s African-American community.

Previously, they’ve hosted multiple events, including workshops on education, social issues, law and justice, and employment; hosted a “Cops, Kids and Teens” event; created multiple community dialogue events; and handed out pamphlets at Gene Coulon Beach Memorial Park on July 4.

There will be a Juneteenth in Renton Proclamation that will be read at the Renton City Council meeting on June 18.

“It is my pleasure to announce that this year Renton will host its very first Juneteenth festival,” said Mayor Denis Law. “In collaboration with the Renton African American Pastors, Juneteenth is the one event that is dedicated to the celebration of the lives, experiences and accomplishments of African Americans here in Renton and across the nation.”

The event on June 16 at Renton Community Center includes a mix of educational and recreational activities.

A 3-on-3 basketball tournament is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A presentation on the 14th and 15 U.S. Constitution amendments led by Carl Livingston is scheduled for 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

John Houston and Bentia Horn will be a virtual tour of Renton’s African American historical sites at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

A presentation on “Thee Visions of the Civil War: Reconciliationist, White Supremacist and Emancipationist” led by Linda Smith and Melvin Lovelace is scheduled for 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.

Pastors Johnny Youngblood and Michael Thomas will lead “The Freedman’s Bureau and 40 Acres & a Mule” presentation at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

The night concludes with a film festival and concert at Carco Theatre from 6 to 9 p.m. The “13th Documentary” directed by Ava DuVernay will be screened. The Total Experience Gospel Choir will also be perform that night.

There will be food trucks stationed outside the community center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Renton History Museum will have a Renton African American Historical exhibit.

The second part of the Juneteenth event focuses on music and spoken word. From 6 to 8 p.m. on June 19 at Carco Theatre, groups including Community Choir, CryOut!, Still Waters and Anointed Brothers are scheduled to perform.

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