The Greater Fairbanks Branch of NAACP is hosting its annual community-wide Juneteenth Celebration from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at Bernice Allridge Park, 2550 Wilson St. There will also be a dinner celebrating African-American seniors and veterans, and a 5K and 10K Race Against Racism to benefit the Fairbanks NAACP scholarship fund.
President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 had minimum to no impact on the day-to-day lives of many slaves, particularly those in Confederate state. Enslaved people in Texas were not freed until 1865, when Union Major-General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston to take possession of the state. On June 19, 1865, Gen. Granger delivered General Order No. 3 from the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, thereby finally ending legal slavery in the United States.
The commemoration of this event is now known as Juneteenth. It is a time for celebrating African-American freedom, community and family. Juneteenth is observed across the United States by people of all races, nationalities and religions, with the recognition that honoring the experiences of others leads to significant improvements in our society.
The yearly community-wide celebration includes free food and entertainment. It is a family-friendly affair, with activities for children provided.
When asked why community participation is important, Juneteenth Committee Chair Quineshia Peterson responded, “As a community it is important that we reflect on how far we’ve come, and collaborate on where we plan to go. So many people make up our community whether it’s UAF, by military association, or born and raised here. We are all in this community together. Juneteenth is an opportunity for us to celebrate in our differences, all while acknowledging our similarities.”
The seniors’ and veterans’ dinner is the night before, from 6-8 p.m Friday, at the BP Design Theater at the UAF Engineering and Innovation Facility. The event is sponsored by the University of Alaska and will feature entertainment by the Fairbanks Youth Orchestra. Seniors and veterans are asked to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday’s Race Against Racism is a 5K and 10K run and community walk starting at the J.P. Jones Community Development Center, 2400 Rickert St. Volunteers are needed at 1 p.m., registration opens at 2 p.m., and the race starts at 3 p.m. Proceeds from the race support the NAACP scholarship fund. The race is sponsored by the Baha’is of Goldstream. It takes runners and walkers past landmarks honoring women and men from the minority community who have made contributions to Fairbanks and Alaska.
Race Director Andy Harrington called the Race Against Racism is a community-wide “feel-good” event.
“It obviously does not in and of itself solve the Interior’s racial problems, but we hope it brings the community together in a friendly atmosphere, giving us the opportunity to set good role models for our children,” he said. “Its primary purpose is to raise awareness of Fairbanks’ ethnic diversity and the leadership and contributions made by people of color.”
Hayden Nevill is a community organizer and can be reached at email@example.com.