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Juneteenth celebrations in local Black communities

Photo by Karim Saafir

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For this holiday, it’s important to celebrate and keep Black dollars in Black communities.

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Black vendors will have one of the biggest days of the year on Juneteenth. Photo by Jason Lewis
 

By Jason Lewis

Juneteenth has become Black America’s premier holiday.  Black people are at the forefront of celebrations such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, but King Day is also about racial inclusion.  Juneteenth is a day that is specifically devoted to African Americans and their history, and the most Afrocentric experiences of this holiday happen in Black communities.  

Like any American holiday, Juneteenth has become commercialized, leading non-Black owned businesses and entities outside of Black neighborhoods to host events for the holiday.  These events pull Black dollars outside of Black communities, which is why it’s important for Black people to participate in the Juneteenth celebrations in Black communities.  

Leimert Park will have events throughout the Juneteenth weekend, and there will be a celebration in Inglewood.  These events feature multiple music stages, kid zones, community resource centers, and Black vendors.  People are able to spend their dollars directly with Black-owned businesses.

“Juneteenth is about our emancipation,” said William “Billion Godsun” Campbell, a member of Africa Town Enterprises.  “From that it’s about self determination.  But when we take our resources to other communities, we’re kind of co-oping our self determination.”

Campbell is one of the organizers for the Juneteenth Black Independence Day 2023 festival in Leimert Park, which will be held on Sunday, June 18 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  His group helps organize African Marketplace and Drum Circle every Sunday along Degnan Boulevard in Leimert Park, and they are advocates for the Black street vendors.

“We need people to come into our community because our community is hurting,” Campbell said.  “Black businesses are hurting.  Black street merchants are hurting.  So with these big opportunities like Juneteenth, King Day, and other major days that we go out, we need people to stay conscious of the need to keep those dollars within our community.  When you go out and put dollars in those other communities, it’s not benefiting us.”

Alfred “DJ Qwess Coast” Torregano, who is one of the organizers of the Juneteenth Festival Leimert Park 2023, which will be held on Monday, June 19 from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., also sees the economic impact of these festivals on Black communities.

“In Leimert Park, Juneteenth serves as the record sales day for these businesses,” he said.  “They sell out and people overly patronize these businesses.  For that reason, these businesses look forward to this day.  The significance of celebrating Juneteenth in a Black community is that it enriches the economic stance for that community.”

Several community-based organizations will be on hand at these festivals, such as Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, Downtown Crenshaw, Africa Town Enterprises, Project 43, TEC Leimert, and many others.  Musicians scheduled to appear include Jasmine Sullivan.

Juneteenth festivals will feature live music and activities for the entire family. Above photo and cover photo by Karim Saafir Photography www.karimsaafirphotography.com
 

There will also be a Juneteenth celebration in Inglewood, which will take place on Sunday, June 18, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Market Street.  

While these festivals help support the Black vendors, the celebration gives people a true Black experience that will not be found in other parts of the city.

“You’re going to come and your soul will be fed,” Torregano said.  “But as you take a deeper dive you’ll hone in on community calls to action so that we can reimagine how we do business with each other; how we look at our own neighbors in our communities.  We’re going to see a large diaspora of music on the stage.  There will be something for everybody.  We want to build the intergenerational relationships within our communities where our elders and our young folks need to have more conversations together.  We’re looking to celebrate our Blackness, our liberation, our independence.”

“We are incorporating as much of Black L.A. as we can,” Campbell said.  “Black L.A. consists of a multitude of different cultures, and people from different areas.  So we are going to reflect the diasporic culture of Black America from hip hop to R&B, to jazz, to those who practice traditional drumming and traditional dancing.  The same thing in the clothing.  We’re going to have people who make more contemporary fashion, and those who make more historical clothing and jewelry.  The same thing with the food.  We’re going to have a multi-diasporic cuisine available.”

For more information about Juneteenth Black Independence Day 2023 festival, follow @african_village_vendors_assoc_ on Instagram.  For more information about the Juneteenth Festival Leimert Park 2023, visit www.leimertparkjuneteenth.com.  For more information about the Inglewood Juneteenth festival, follow @homecominginla on Instagram.