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Local Juneteenth Block Party Today Takes On New Significance As Saturday Becomes Federal Holiday

Published on Saturday, June 19, 2021 | 5:44 am
The manuscript of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation stated that slaves in those states or parts of states still in rebellion as of January 1, 1863, would be declared free. September 22, 1862. (Via Shutterstock)

Participants at Saturday’s Juneteenth Freedom March and Block Party in Altadena will have a bit more to celebrate since it will be held on the first June 19 as a federal holiday.

A group of community organizations is inviting the community to join in events that commemorate the emancipation of slaves in the United States.

”We’re really excited. It will be a day to celebrate the emancipation of African Americans who were enslaved here in the United States. It’s a moment for our resilient people to be celebrated,” said Heavenly Hughes, co-founder and director of My TRIBE Rise, one of nine local community organizations teaming up to host the event.

The event, which will include speakers, live music, dancing and poetry reading, is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. at Charles White Park, 77 Mountain View St.

After meeting at the park, a short walk is planned before returning to the park for a block party, organizers said. All are welcome, Hughes said.

The event was planned weeks ago, before it was known the day would be designated and signed into law as a national holiday by President Joe Biden. The House and the Senate passed the bill last week in a rare showing of bipartisanship, but locals told Pasadena Now the fight for equality continues.

“The wheels of justice oftentimes turn slowly, but ever so finely,” said Councilmember John Kennedy. “Don’t go for the head fake — the true equalizer in America is obtaining a quality education and the ability to access money/capital to fund your dreams, whatever they are.”

Kennedy said Juneteenth, in his view, is simply another manifestation that justice for the formerly enslaved stills comes from a sophisticated fight.

“So, we will not go for the head fake, we will fight on until justice is fully won for all people in the United States, but particularly African Americans,” Kennedy said. “I applaud the United States Congress for working together to make Juneteenth a national holiday!”

Hughes said it remains of critical importance in 2021 to take time to reflect on the events of 156 years ago, she said.

Juneteenth is the anniversary date of the 1865 announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army General Gordon Granger, proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas. The Civil War had ended but slaves had not been freed in Texas until Granger arrived to enforce emancipation.

“What it means to me is that we are free and we want to keep that statement in the atmosphere that we are free, especially with the civil unrest within the atmosphere regarding human rights and civil rights,” Hughes said.

“We, as a people, have to remind ourselves to be in a state and the mindset that we are free, and to remind America, remind our community, that we are free people and we want to be treated accordingly,” she said. “And so as a black woman here in Altadena, here in the United States, I look forward to celebrating the freedom of our people for the sake of our ancestors to make sure we remember that at one time our people were enslaved and now we are free.

By chance, Pasadena was incorporated as a city on June 19, in 1886. Many Civil War-era abolitionists came to the Pasadena/Altadena area, including John Brown’s son Owen and Ellen Garrison Clark.

Saturday’s event will also include a tribute to Refuge Christian Center Pastor and co-founder Dorothy Evans, who recently died, organizers said.

More information on My TRIBE Rise is available on the organization’s website at

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