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Juneteenth celebration coming Saturday


LORAIN — A celebration in sound will highlight this year’s Juneteeth BluesFest at Lorain’s Lakeview Park.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It dates back to June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers, led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were free.

The freedom proclamation didn’t come until a full two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Upon hearing the news, the newly freed slaves created a celebration that became the premier holiday for African-Americans throughout the South.

An event from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, sponsored by the Elyria YWCA, Lorain County Metro Parks, Lorain County Board of Mental Health and United Property Management will pay homage to that celebration with a salute to America’s most enduring musical form and the people and culture that nurtured it from its roots in Africa to Lorain County.

“In the beginning was the blues and it took root in America and created other music from urban blues, jazz, gospel, swing, rock ’n’ roll, rhythm and blues, country and hip-hop,” said Jeanine Donaldson, YWCA executive director. “Juneteenth celebrations vary from state to state and town to town, but there were always picnics, contests, jubilation and music. Just as the great migration of African-Americans from the South to the North facilitated the spread of blues music, they also brought with them the Southern tradition of Juneteenth.”

This year, Sons of Thunder, a youth drumline, will make its debut at the Juneteenth Festival. Its members are from New Creations Church in Lorain. Jazz drummer and Oberlin Conservatory graduate Zaire Darden is the leader.

Other musical performances include ET King, Lydia “Suga” Lee and DC Carnes. There will be appearances by artist Ashley Bennett, genealogy researcher Shirley Reader, MC Jae the Gospel Kid and John Cooper, portraying Abraham Lincoln, recounting a series of historical events that lead to Lincoln drafting the Emancipation Proclamation.

For more information, call Kaleena Whitfield at (440) 787-3325.

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