WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Several local events celebrated Juneteenth last week, recognizing the day the last group of slaves were freed in the U.S.
On Saturday, celebrations continued as vendors, performers and people from all backgrounds gathered in the gym of the Trumbull County Community Action Program.
“There’s a group of elders who’s been doing this celebration for about 10 years and when COVID hit, they weren’t able to do their planning like they normally would so we just stepped in because it was easier for us to get it done,” said event coordinator Lea Dotson, from the local group “I Vote Black.”
As part of the event, more than 30 small businesses from Warren set up shop to have their items displayed.
Items ranged from cultural designs and jewelry to T-shirts and even homemade masks.
Dotson said the purpose of the day was bigger than commercialization.
“What we saw here today is the realization of our ancesters’ dreams. A lot of Black businesses, entrepreneurs and celebrating our youth. I really want them to understand the significance of it, especially during a time like this,” Dotson said.
Chauncey Harris is also a founding member of “I Vote Black.” He said that with all of the negativity going on in the Black community involving police brutality, they felt it was important to get everyone together for something positive.
“That’s a lot of trauma involved with those things, so we thought to get everyone together to celebrate freedom because sometimes we don’t have a reason to celebrate… This is a time to celebrate and be happy, walk around, say hi to everybody, get a handshake and hug, get a dap, get a fist and keep it moving,” said Harris.
Harris said he was glad to see everyone celebrating. He said Juneteenth isn’t just a celebration of the Black community, but a celebration of freedom for all races.
“I want people to leave here happy, leave here with some price about being Black, pride about being an American, pride about being who they are,” Harris said.