Juneteenth celebration planned for June 21

Published: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at 1:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at 1:19 p.m.

The Cone Park Branch Library is inviting the community to take part in the annual Juneteenth Celebration with music, dancing, a talent competition, food and prizes.



* What: The 6th annual Juneteenth Celebration, with music, “Idol” contest, and more

* When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. June 21

* Where: Cone Park Branch Library, 2841-A E. University Ave.

* Information: Call 352-334-0720.

The celebration, now in its sixth year, will be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. June 21 at the Cone Park library at 2841-A E. University Ave. The event is being sponsored in conjunction with the Cone Park library, Library Partnership Neighborhood Resource Center, Partnership for Strong Families, local businesses and other organizations.

Featured also will be the Juneteenth Idol competition modeled after "American Idol," the FOX singing competition show.

In the past, the event was held in the parking lot of Library Partnership at 1130 NE 16th Ave., but this is the second year it has been held at the Cone Park Branch Library.

Juneteenth, which is observed on June 19 each year, is the oldest known celebration to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger reached Galveston, Texas, with the news that the war had ended and the enslaved were now free. This took place two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which became official on Jan. 1, 1863.

Nickie Kortus, spokesperson for the Alachua County Library District, said the celebration helps to foster a better understanding of history, music and culture.

"We hope people get an understanding of what Juneteenth is about, get an appreciation for black music month and have fun," said Nate Courtney, senior librarian at Cone Park. June is National African American Music Appreciation Month.

There will be activities for children, opportunities to sign up for the summer reading program, and food, including hot dogs.

Last year, 200 people attended the event.

One of the highlights of the entertainment will be the "Juneteenth Idol" competition, with students in elementary, middle and high school auditioning for a spot and a chance to win bragging rights and prizes that will include a gift card for $100 for first place, $75 for second place, and $50 for third place.

The contestants are: Kesean Brown, 12; T'Yannah Spann, 14; Kiyana Williams, 10; and Erion Hunter, 14.

Some of the contestants shared their thoughts.

T'Yannah, who will be singing a capella, said she has been working on her song.

"I'm a little nervous, but almost ready," she said.

Erion, who will be singing a gospel song, said she's comfortable singing for a crowd because she sings in church and has participated in talent shows.

"I'm really excited," Erion said, "and pretty confident."

Kiyana, who also will be singing a gospel song, is ready.

"I know how to compete," Kiyana said. "I'm not nervous at all. I feel pretty calm. I'm happy, I guess."

Anita Jenkins, Library Partnership manager, said this year the competition was expanded to include elementary school students. She said the contestants are talented and courageous to perform in front of a crowd.

"All of them have awesome talent," Jenkins said. "It's an awesome thing to have the courage to get in front of people to display their talents."

The entertainment also will feature local artists, including Africa 2000, the Lavern Porter Dancers, The Last of the Gunslingers, gospel group Marion Clark and New Vision, Fleetwood the Boss, Lanard Perry, jazz/R&B singer Quintina Crawford and others.

Local organizations will be on site with information about their programs. They will include UF HealthStreet, PACE Center for Girls, Music and Arts Program for Youth, Alachua County Equal Opportunity Office, city of Gainesville Bike and Pedestrian Program, UF Early Steps and others organizations.

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