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Juneteenth celebrations planned around San Diego County this weekend

Celebrations of Juneteenth were being held across San Diego County Friday and will continue this weekend, as the nation celebrates the momentous occasion officially for the second time.

There was music, free food and more at San Diego State University Friday as the school held its first official Juneteenth celebration.

SDSU’s Tonika Duren Green helped to organize the event.

“We have business vendors here from our community, also from our SDSU community,” the Associate Vice President for Campus Community Affairs said. “We have departments across SDSU’s campus who are tabling to share more about our cultural centers here on campus. We have food vendors and trucks, food trucks, and just students across campus as well as families enjoying the event.”

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Jacob Aere
SDSU Juneteenth event organizers gather together in a plaza, June 17, 2022.

Juneteenth is the commemoration of the end of slavery specifically in Galveston, Texas, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. Enforcement of President Abraham Lincoln's proclamation generally relied on the advance of Union troops. A bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday was signed into law last year by President Joe Biden.

On Friday, San Diego Unified School District, San Diego County officials and officials in San Diego and Chula Vista raised the Juneteenth flag.

Superintendent Lamont Jackson was on hand at San Diego Unified School District’s headquarters.

“The fact that we have not had a federal holiday celebrating the end of slavery until 2021 does indicate, as I said, the work that we have to do,” he said. “And we can do it in public education, and we will do it in public education.”

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Jacob Aere
A young San Diego Unified student speaks at a Juneteenth press event, June 17, 2022.

And students spoke about what Juneteenth means to them.

“Juneteenth for me represents freedom, but that freedom only goes so far. Because until this day we’re still fighting for our freedom, fighting to get justice in this world and fighting to have the same equal rights as another white man walking the street,” San Diego Unified student Abigail Ford said. “Juneteenth is for all the African Americans who put their lives on the line to get us to where we are today.”

Rev. Shane Harris, president of the People's Association of Justice Advocates, joined leaders of the San Diego Unified School District in raising the flag at the district's headquarters.

"Our county and country commemorates Juneteenth this weekend. It is an opportunity to celebrate freedom, reflect on a critical part of American history and the ongoing challenges of Black people in America and recommit ourselves to rooting out the systemic racism that continues to plague our society," Harris said. "America must pay its debt to Black Americans by delivering on some form of reparations."

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Jacob Aere
Students and community leaders raise the Juneteenth flag at San Diego Unified School District's headquarters, June 17, 2022.

For the county, it was the first time the flag has been raised at the County Administration Center. San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher hosted the event in partnership with the Office of Equity & Racial Justice, Young, Black, & N' Business, the African American Association of County Employees, Black American Political Association of California and The Cooper Family Foundation to help kick-off a series of activities taking place across the region. Mother Dorothy Williams of Mt. Zion Baptist Church sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and Vanessa Green of the county's Office of Equity and Racial Justice recited an oral history of Juneteenth.

On Saturday, multiple events are planned for the holiday around the county.

At 7:30 a.m., the World Beat Cultural Center will host a Juneteenth bike ride through Mid-City/Downtown San Diego. People of all ages who ride bikes or are interested in riding bikes and support diversity, equity and community-building are welcome to join. The ride is organized and led by Major Taylor Cycling Club San Diego. 2100 Park Blvd. in Balboa Park.

The North San Diego County Juneteenth celebration will kick off in Oceanside at Pier View Way and Freeman Street, with local artists and musicians, a kids zone, sports clinics, vendor booths, free health screenings and a vaccine station. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Jacob Aere
The Juneteenth flag flies beneath the United States and California State flags at San Diego Unified School District headquarters, June 17, 2022.

At 10 a.m., Community Actor's Theatre and Common Ground Theatre will host an outdoor event at the Jacobs Center in Market Creek Plaza with history, music, dancing, storytelling, reflection, vendors and physical art. The Jacobs Center For Neighborhood Innovation is at 404 Euclid Ave.

The Cooper Family Foundation will host its annual Juneteenth Celebration at Memorial Park, 2975 Ocean View Blvd., with the theme of "Healing the Community." The event includes educational programs, cultural performances, gospel music and more. The event begins at 11 a.m.

At noon, The Old Globe Theater will host its sixth annual Juneteenth celebration. Hosted by Gill Sotu, the event's lineup includes poetry and music by performers Def Sound, Reg E Gaines and Brittany Taylor; a choir performance by David Dredden and Undefeated; a Juneteenth storytelling by poet Alyce Smith Cooper; a comedy set by Kree Rushing; and a presentation by The Old Globe called "Sucker Punched." Lowell Davies Festival Theatre Stage, 1363 Old Globe Way.

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Jacob Aere
A Juneteenth banner hangs at SDSU's first official event for the holiday, June 17, 2022.

Also at noon, Soul Swapmeet will celebrate Juneteenth with a showcase for Black-owned business products, services, foods and passions. DJ sets will be performed by DJ Drumma Girl, DJ Ash D and DJ D Nyce. The event features food vendors and a kids play area. It's being held at 1640 Camino Del Rio North.

On Sunday at 9 a.m., the Surfrider Foundation of San Diego County will host its Juneteenth community barbecue with a "Paddle for Peace," yoga and surf lessons, a beach cleanup and food. La Jolla Shores, 8300 Camino Del Oro.

At noon, The La Mesa Juneteenth and Friends 2022 celebration will kick off at MacArthur Park, 4975 Memorial Drive. The event will feature food, art, music, history, dance, crafts and family fun.

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Jacob Aere
A group of dancers perform a routine on SDSU campus, June 17, 2022.

Finally, on Monday, all public San Diego County offices, family resource centers, libraries and animal shelters will be closed in observance of the holiday.

County- and state-operated COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites will be closed Sunday and Monday and will resume normal hours Tuesday. Some vaccination and testing clinics will be open.

Essential services such as law enforcement and emergency animal control response will continue through the holiday.

County parks, campgrounds and neighborhood day-use parks will remain open, except for: Fallbrook Community Center, Lakeside Community Center, Spring Valley Community Center, Spring Valley Gymnasium, 4S Ranch Recreation Office (all parks will be open), Valley Center Recreation Center and community teen centers.

All county offices will resume normal business hours Tuesday.