Juneteenth

Andre Wilson helps his son, Dezmond, toss a bean bag at the Marysville Juneteenth festival in Yuba Park in Marysville in June 2019.

An event is planned this weekend to celebrate the day in 1865 when enslaved Black people learned they had been freed.

“Juneteenth is a celebration to memorialize the day that the last enslaved people (learned) that the emancipation happened,” said Emma Hirshkorn, an event organizer.

The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, when the end of slavery was announced in Galveston, Texas – more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Saturday’s event will be the fourth that Hirshkorn and her husband, Leonard Johnson, have organized in Marysville.

Next year, local organization The Village Yuba-Sutter will be taking over the event. Hirshkorn and Johnson plan to focus more on other projects, however, she said she still plans to help with the event.

U.S. President Joe Biden signed a bill on Thursday establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a U.S. federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

“I think that having (Juneteenth) celebrated and recognized … it’s some acknowledgement that it didn’t go down the way it was in the history books,” Hirshkorn said. “...The history books only tell the winner’s side and that’s the problem with society, we need to know all sides so we don’t repeat. Acknowledging Juneteenth will maybe start to bring some of those things up to the front.”

The Juneteenth event will take place on Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. at Yuba Park – at 10th and Yuba streets – in Marysville.

Hirshkorn said it’s going to be “kind of an old-school family reunion” type of event – there won’t be food or sale vendors. 

“Bring your own pop-up, barbecue pit and a smile,” Hirshkorn said.

There will be a band performing at 1 p.m. and a D.J. throughout the day. 

Children’s activities will include relay races and a cake walk, and for adults there will be a dominoes tournament and dance contest both with cash prizes.

Hirshkorn said there will also be a water gun fight in a designated area.

They will also be talking about history and why Juneteenth is celebrated, along with there being information booths about local resources and more.

Face masks and hand sanitizer will be available and the park is large enough for social distancing if people choose to, she said.

With forecast highs in the triple digits, attendees are also being encouraged to stay hydrated.

“Leonard Johnson would like to invite everybody to have fun and learn some history,” Hirshkorn said.

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