Juneteenth - East St. Louis, IL

An Annual City of East St. Louis Holiday Since 2014 - Our Commitment to Moving Ever Forward

JUNE 19th, 1865 - Adapted over the years to "June-Teenth"

What in The World is “JUNETEENTH?”

Juneteenth is an adaptive way of saying “June 19th.” On this day, our country committed to change by emancipating the last of the slaves. President Lincoln made his fateful “proclamation.” Away went General Granger in Galveston, TX to deliver the General Order #3 setting free the last slaves. This momentous day in America, traditionally celebrated with barbeque, strawberries, and family since 1865 is an African American Independence holiday.

Tracy Johnson, “Ras Tra” founded the event 15 years ago as a way to raise awareness among his family and friends during his birthday celebration. In 2012, Mr. Johnson joined CDSS as Cultural Arts Director spearheading Juneteenth. In 2015, our third year hosting Juneteenth as a citywide event, The City of East St. Louis recognized our efforts proclaiming Juneteenth an Official East St. Louis Holiday! Each year this event grows gaining more recognition and we expect this year, to be spectacular, celebrated as a citywide holiday. On June 17, 2017, we invite all neighboring communities to East St. Louis to bring about peace, diversity, and understanding.

Mr. Johnson stated, “It is my dream to make Juneteenth as big as St. Louis, Mo. We need to come together and celebrate our REAL African American Independence Day because June 19 is our holiday; not July 4.”

Community Development Sustainable Solutions is a proactive and innovative East St. Louis, IL based nonprofit agency. As part of CDSS’ non-violence initiatives, the grassroots agency seeks to civically engage members of the community with positive fun and educational events such as “Put Down The Guns, Pick Up Your Sons, March to Fun”, (a collaboration with Studio 618 for the past 5 years) and National Night Out, an annual event in August promoting positive police/community relations. Juneteenth-East St. Louis is no different as CDSS brings to life the historical significance of June 19, 1865, our Emancipation Day.

Vickie Forbe, founder of Emerson Park Development Corporation, co-sponsors our Juneteenth-East St. Louis, IL Celebration bringing her “TRAINING 2 WORK” philosophy, workforce development, and employment connections straight to you. According to Ms. Forbe, “It is important that East St. Louis and surrounding communities know where they can get “real” job opportunities and certifications!

According to Mr. Terrance Taylor, CDSS Vice President, “Last year was BIG, but this year is EVEN BIGGER! We expect upwards of 400 people at the boathouse in Jones Park so we are looking for more vendors and more entertainers to engage but you better do it fast because time and space is running out. You can call me at 618-514-3199 or Mr. Johnson at 314-607-8684.”

Since that fateful day in June 1865, this holiday and its meaning seems to fade in and out just as our sense of direction as a community and a diverse country. Close your eyes and imagine what it must have been like to hear the words finally proclaimed aloud and with conviction, “YOU ARE FREE!” Stephanie Bush, President CDSS, said, “It is the year 2017 and this year’s theme is Unity and Wellness as we continue our Call to Change. We welcome everyone regardless of color or culture out to reflect upon this journey we embarked upon back when Lincoln was president. We are proud supporters of East St. Louis Memorial Post 2505 and happy that they will be there to read the actual General Order #3 in full military regalia.”

Juneteenth-East St. Louis is all about Unity and Wellness, sense of pride, and neighborhood involvement in a rich cultural atmosphere that promotes civic engagement. Come out and invite some friends from outside the community as well. Let them see how East St. Louis, IL (the only all-black city in the U.S.), celebrates and acknowledges our freedom and desire to move forward. Plenty of Barbeque, strawberries, vending, rides, and of course, lots of fun! The event kicks off with an 11am Parade from East Side High School traveling down state and turning at 25th street then proceeding all the way to Jones Park. Let’s get together and make some noise. It has been too long since we have seen any festivities run through our city streets. Mr. Taylor said, “Be on the lookout for our Juneteenth King and Queen this year as well as an end of the evening Sparkling Unity Circle!”

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