Athens community comes together for 19th is the New 4th festival

On June 18, the Athens community gathered in the Holland Youth Sports Complex to celebrate the “19th is the New 4th” festival with food trucks, bouncy houses and live music in observance of Juneteenth.

Juneteenth is an annual celebration honoring the day the Union army arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865, almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, to establish control and inform all enslaved people of their freedom. 

Juneteenth became an official federal holiday on June 17, 2021 and is viewed as an important holiday that has grown more recognition over recent years.

The celebration started at 5 p.m. with food trucks lining the parking lot near the soccer fields featuring Official Streets Eats, Taqueria Luna Rosa and a barbecue cookout with southern foods such as pulled pork, mac and cheese and pasta salad. 

Towards the back of the lot, a live music stage was set up and featured local Black artists including Tribe House Records, Marco Hull and Squalle. Attendees danced along to the fast, uplifting beats, and listened intently to the slower, deeper songs as the artists spoke on institutionalized racism and the struggles of being a Black person in America.

Melinda Cochran Davis, assistant director of ACC, emphasized that this is the first year that Athens-Clarke County set aside funding for multiple events this year to celebrate Juneteenth. In the past, there were individual events hosted by different organizations but this year, everyone came together.

This festival was the final celebration of the “19 Days of Juneteenth” event series hosted by ACC Leisure Services and ACC Inclusion Office. The series featured a different event every day leading up to June 19 that discussed and celebrated various aspects of the Black community in Athens and Juneteenth as a whole.

Sydney Copeland, a volunteer staff member at the festival, shared that this was her first time at an event similar to this, and was excited to see the turnout. “I think it’s important to celebrate histories from other cultures and ethnicities- I think it’s important to recognize all of them,” Copeland said. 

As the night went on, more people filed into the complex with wide smiles and warm hugs from friends and acquaintances. The bouncy houses on the soccer field were bustling with the energy of excited kids, and the picnic tables across hosted relieved parents. 

Micah Nix, an inclusion fellow with the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government, aids in the development of events that cover all backgrounds and diverse groups in the community. 

“Necessary and important” – the general consensus she gathered from attendees at the Juneteenth event series. “It was really cool to see Athens do something about [Juneteenth] and have a local government taking an interest in it,” Nix said. 

People of all backgrounds attended the festival to support the Black community and honor the history of Juneteenth. The celebration wrapped up around 9 p.m. and event goers left as one — feeling closer than before. 

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

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