Youth, history take center stage for Juneteenth
by Glenn Moore
Jun 13, 2013 | 1864 views | 0 0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Juneteenth celebration
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Young and old gathered at Lincoln Park on Saturday, June 8, to celebrate their heritage at Tracy’s 19th annual Juneteenth observance, sponsored by Tracy African American Association.

Booths offering arts and crafts and food drew crowds despite triple-digit temperatures, and many young people entertained onlookers with a fashion show, dances and singing, including a Christian rap performance.

Dequan Carter, 19, performed with Crusaders 4 Christ, a men’s drill team from San Mateo’s Church of Christ. Afterward, he said he and his peers need to take an active part in telling their families’ stories.

“When we come to events like this and see our roots and our history, we as young people should pass the legacy on — pass it on to the next generations,” he said.

Toni Beckham, the chief information officer for TAAA, called the all-day party in the park a “celebration of our heritage” and said one focus is getting children and young adults involved.

She said Juneteenth is the biggest event of the year for TAAA and a major fundraiser for the group’s annual scholarships.

“Our mission is to support the kids, their heritage and their education,” Beckham said. “We make it a point to inform them what Juneteenth is and why we celebrate it.”

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day when slaves in Texas learned they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation more than two years earlier. The former slaves celebrated with song, dance and food, a tradition that has spread throughout the country in recent years.

Denzel Black, 19, a member of the Crusaders 4 Christ drill team, was emphatic about the importance of taking part in events like Juneteenth.

“You have got to know where you come from,” he said. “Today’s a good event for fellowship — we can praise God at this event.”

Lana Morehead, who has attended Juneteenth in Tracy for several years, said she has seen younger people take greater responsibility for the celebration.

“I see a change in this event — it was geared toward the older people, now it has a lot of young people,” she said. “I think it’s a good idea. The older people are aging out. I think all cultures pass on what they know to the younger people.”

Winners of the TAAA Wayne Nelson Academic Scholarship were also recognized Saturday.

The recipients — all local residents — were LaRae Adams from Kimball High School, Miles Barrett from Delta Charter High School, Deja Pointer from Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland and Michael Young, Kahe Kaye and Ernest Turner from West High School.

• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or gmoore@tracypress.com.

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