The Oriki Arts troupe performs at the 2021 Salinas Juneteenth Celebration. (Contributed)

SALINAS — The second annual Salinas Juneteenth Celebration, a community-wide cultural event to commemorate the liberation of enslaved African and Black American people in 1865, will be held from 12 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, at Hartnell College.

The family-friendly celebration of this newly recognized national holiday will feature live music, activities for children, food, vendors and a fashion show, all intended to highlight and honor Black history, culture and pride.

The program in the Central Plaza of Hartnell’s Main Campus, 411 Central Ave., in Salinas will begin with an opening prayer at 1 p.m., followed by welcoming remarks from Yvonne Thomas, president of NAACP Monterey County, and greetings from Chris Barrera, president of Salinas LULAC Council #2055. 

Live entertainment will include performances by the New Hope Baptist Church youth choir, African drumming and poetry, as well as a DJ.

Free parking is available in the Hartnell parking structure.

The event planning committee includes 2020 Hartnell graduate Kenya Burton, a community organizer and the Youth Poet Laureate for Salinas who now attends Sacramento State University. In her biography on the event website, she said she joined the Juneteenth team to “shine a light on the people that are often forgotten and to bring hope to Salinas.”

“I hope to continue to organize and make sure that celebrations like this continue for years to come,” she said.

Juneteenth marks June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers enforced President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and freed all remaining slaves in Texas, signaling the full enactment of that decree.

Erica Padilla-Chavez, president of the Hartnell Community College District, said Hartnell is proud to host Salinas’ second annual Juneteenth and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a meaningful celebration.

“The immoral tragedy of slavery must never be forgotten,” Padilla-Chavez said. “Juneteenth helps preserve that history while joyfully celebrating Black culture and the enormous contributions of Black people in our community and throughout our nation’s history.”

Article submitted by Scott Faust, Communications Director for Hartnell College.

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