An Emancipation Day band celebrates Juneteenth on June 19, 1900 in Texas. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Juneteenth may not be a familiar holiday to many, but June 19 marks the anniversary of when slavery officially ended for all slaves in 1865.

Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation and months after the war ended, the abolishment of slavery wasn’t enforced in every state until Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War was over.

Also known as Juneteenth Independence Day, Emancipation Day and Freedom Day, it is considered the oldest observed African American holiday in the country.

“Juneteenth commemorates the strong survival instinct of African Americans who were first brought to this country stacked in the bottom of slave ships in a month-long journey across the Atlantic Ocean,” a California Juneteenth Assembly Resolution states.

California adopted it as a state holiday in 2017. Although it isn’t nationally recognized, many states throughout the country also observe it.

San Diegans will celebrate Juneteenth this year with several events held throughout the week.

Saturday, June 15: Juneteenth Healing the Community Street Fair 2019

The Cooper Family Foundation is holding a Juneteenth Healing the Community Street Fair from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. The event will include performances, educational speakers, health screenings, community resources and local vendors.

Headlining the main musical stage is The Dazz Band, performing with a lineup of several other R&B, jazz and gospel music acts. There will be free food, food trucks selling additional food options and a fun zone for kids.

For more than 50 years, the Cooper Family Foundation has organized Juneteenth celebrations in San Diego. According to its website, the organization hopes to make it “the biggest celebration in the city of San Diego.”

Saturday, June 15: Juneteenth Celebration Jazz Festival

Oceanside will also celebrate the holiday on Saturday with its annual multicultural celebration and jazz festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The event is free and includes jazz and gospel performances through the day. Festival goers can shop at food and gift booths, receive information at health awareness booths and participate in youth activities.

Held by the North San Diego County NAACP, some of the proceeds will benefit their Back to School/Stay in School program.

Monday, June 17: “Crumbs from the Table of Joy”

Cultural Noire Performing Arts Company and the WorldBeat Cultural Center will hold a reading of “Crumbs from the Table of Joy” as part of their Fifth Annual Juneteenth Theatrical Celebration.

Directed by Portia Gregory and Gina M. Jackson, the play is a coming-of-age story about Ernestine Crump set in 1950s Brooklynn, New York. The memory play includes themes of “racism, feminism and the challenging nature of change,” according to the event page.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and the reading begins at 7 p.m. with a reception to follow. Tickets are free and registration is available online.

Wednesday, June 19: Juneteenth Golf Tournament

Golfers can celebrate Freedom Day by participating in the first Juneteenth golf tournament, starting at 7:30 a.m. at Riverwalk Golf Club,

Organized by the local National Association of Real Estate Brokers chapter, registration is $150 per person and $540 for a foursome. In addition to golfing, there will also be a raffle, door prizes, silent auction and an awards presentation lunch.

Participants have until June 15 to sign up for the tournament. The fee also covers the cost of a polo shirt and lunch. Non-golfing spectators can also participate by attending the lunch for $45.

Wednesday, June 19: Juneteenth Family Dinner

Culture + Cuisine and San Diego Melanin are holding a Juneteenth dinner at Suckerfree Southern Plate & Bar in the Gaslamp District at 7:30 p.m. The event will be a three-course, family-style meal meant to encourage fellowship and discussion amongst young professionals while celebrating the end of slavery.

“The dinner is really an opportunity to remember our heritage and also celebrate the contribution and the beauty and the resilience of African Americans and the African American community,” said Loren Cobbs, San Diego Melanin founder.

People of all backgrounds are invited to attend the dinner.

“We strive to curate experiences that are open and welcoming to all individuals, especially through spaces of comfort and community for young professionals of color,” Cobbs said.

Tickets can be purchased online and are $50 for one person or $85 for two. Vegetarian and pescatarian options are also available.

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