SOMD — Southern Maryland celebrated Juneteenth on Saturday, June 19, for the first time as a national holiday after President Joe Biden[D] signed a bill recognizing the day one day prior by hosting community-based family-friendly events.
The “Charles County Juneteenth Committee” celebrated the Shops of Waldorf that featured a dance to the beats of traditional African drumming, the singing of the African American National Anthem, an oratory competition, local black, indigenous, and people of color(BIPOC) owned small businesses and community fellowship.
For it only to be the second year the Charles County Juneteenth Committee has held this event, it had good attendance. But there is still more growth to go.
“I thought [the attendance] was good, but I think we could have done a better job at marketing,” the program director, Deron Tross, said. “We had about 1,000 people there. It was about 75% more [compared to last year].”
Meanwhile, the Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions (UCAC) held a Juneteenth festival in Lexington Park, Md., that featured an African American History Tour, a live Jazz Concert and a Juneteenth special presentation via YouTube.
Although this was the UCAC’s 18th time having this event, the attendance was lower compared to previous years. Michael Brown, President of the UCAC, estimated the attendance to be around 500 people, a drastic drop from the average of 2,000 people the event has previously seen. However, the UCAC committee expected attendance to drop lower because of the pandemic.
“[The attendance] was better than we expected. Until the second week of May, we were going to have a hybrid Juneteenth. It was going to be a pre-recorded Juneteenth celebration, and then, we were going to have a live concert,” Michael Brown, president of the UCAC, said. “I think most of the people expected to watch the pre-recorded celebration on YouTube.”
It can also be noted that the Calvert County NAACP put on a celebration at Jefferson Patterson Park that was well attended.
“Thank you all for making Junteenth/Community day a success,” Michael Kent, the Calvert County NAACP president said on Facebook. “We had a record crowd of more than a thousand people. A maintenance worker who has been at the Park for 37 years said it was the largest turnout he had ever seen.”
Even though the pre-recorded celebration was used differently, the Juneteenth presentation became a highlight of the event, and people enjoyed themselves.
“The pre-recorded Juneteenth was the highlight of the day. It gave a lot of good information,” Brown said. “But since we are getting out of a pandemic, I think people had a good time getting together and seeing people live.”
All Southern Maryland organizations will continue to make additions to the event, so the community can stay culturally aware of this history while maintaining a sense of fellowship.
“I think this event means a lot to the community in terms of cultural awareness and what Juneteenth represents as a whole,” Tross said. “It was the opportunity to tell the history behind Juneteenth.”
“Everybody says America needs to continue to celebrate this vision because of all we are seeing in America today,” Brown said. “If we forget history, we repeat it.”
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