Juneteenth celebration to be held in Homer

Following a week of protests in Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith and Love Park and the beginning of weekly educational gatherings centered around racial justice, a group of people are set to host a Juneteenth celebration in Homer.

Homer residents Sierra Moskios and Winter Marshall-Allen, along with a few others, are organizing a Juneteenth event in the park on Pioneer Avenue for 3:30-7 p.m. this Friday. Marshall-Allen, a local teacher, is the organizer of the daily Black Lives Matter protests that took place in Homer earlier this month. Protests have broken out all over the country in response to the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, in police custody in May.

While the Emancipation Proclamation which established former slaves as free men in the United States was formally issued in 1863, slavery continued in several states for another two years. The practice of enslaving black people continued in Texas until 1865. On June 19 of that year, federal orders were given that all previously enslaved people were free, and June 19 came to be celebrated as Juneteenth, or Jubilee Day.

While celebrating with food in the form of a picnic or cookout is usually a big part of Juneteenth, Moskios said that won’t be happening at the Homer event due to the threat of the novel coronavirus. All participants are asked to wear a face covering and to practice social distancing at the park.

The event kicks off with prayer and speakers from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Moskios and Marshall-Allen have invited several religious leaders from local churches to attend and speak. Religion has long been a part of Juneteenth celebrations, Marshall-Allen said.

“We’re wanted to make sure we recognize that as part of the celebration,” she said.

Some texts from the Bible will be read at the event, along with some pieces about the history of the celebration. Time will be left for conversation before transitioning into live music and food from 5-7 p.m.

The food the organizers have secured through donation so far comes in the form of individually wrapped items — things like bags of chips and granola bars. A potluck style celebration wouldn’t be in line with health recommendations for COVID-19, Moskios said.

Marshall-Allen said holding a Juneteenth celebration in Homer is a way to continue the education and conversation that was already started with the Black Lives Matter protests.

“I think this community could be made more aware for how delayed that freedom was for some of the other community members,” she said.

Just because there’s a small percentage of black and brown people in Homer, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be supported and celebrated, Moskios said.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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