Thursday, June 18, 2009

Celebrate Juneteenth at free fest Saturday at Kennedy Park | ®

Celebrate Juneteenth at free fest Saturday at Kennedy Park ®

Celebrate Juneteenth at free fest Saturday at Kennedy Park
By M. Scot Skinner
Tucson, Arizona Published: 06.18.2009

Tucson's 39th annual celebration of Juneteenth culminates Saturday with a free festival at Kennedy Park.
Juneteenth, observed in one fashion or another by 31 states, marks the date when slaves in Galveston, Texas, finally got word that they were free — 2 1/2 years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

"People think that Juneteenth is a celebration for blacks, and it is, but it belongs to all Americans," said festival chairman Burney Starks.

"Until June 19th, 1865, this was not truly the United States, land of the free," said Starks. "It's a very significant date in American history."

In addition to vendors selling all kinds of food, there'll be kids activities and a fully loaded lineup of musical and dance performances on the Fiesta Area stage near West Ajo Way and South La Cholla Boulevard.

Although admission is free, the Community Food Bank will be collecting nonperishable items for its shelves.
"We're encouraging everybody to bring a couple cans of food," said Starks, who will hit the stage at some point with his True Devotion Motown Revue.

The Juneteenth All-Star Band, featuring Bob "Big Bird" Elliott , Lisa Otey and others, will be featured, and no Juneteenth would be complete without African dancing from the Barbea Williams company.

Although the schedule was still being tweaked when we went to press, a total of 42 performers will be spotlighted during a Hip-hop and R&B Showcase that starts at 5 p.m., said Samantha Baxter, who is coordinating the entertainment this year with her husband, David, and DJ Terry Thomas.

The Rising Star Praise Dancers, the HTJ Step Team and the Human Project dance ensemble will perform, along with D-N-A, Mo Watts, Southern Union, Mic Jordan, Desert Tactics and Good Hood Music.

Miss Juneteenth 2009 — Tatiana Acosta, 19 — will be introduced along with the runner-up, Ynisha Carter, 15.

Acosta will perform "Listen," from the musical "Dreamgirls."