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KBAC plans Juneteenth celebration

Gwen Allen-Carston, executive director for the Kent Black Action Commission, leads discussion on plans for the Juneteenth celebration, set for June 15 at the Kent Senior Center.  - Mark Klaas/Kent Reporter
Gwen Allen-Carston, executive director for the Kent Black Action Commission, leads discussion on plans for the Juneteenth celebration, set for June 15 at the Kent Senior Center.
— image credit: Mark Klaas/Kent Reporter

Exposure, growth and education are important to a Kent nonprofit organization committed to acknowledging and advancing the work of African Americans in South King County.

To catch and showcase that, organizers with the Kent Black Action Commission (KBAC) are busy preparing for its second annual Juneteenth celebration, set for June 15 at the Kent Senior Center. The community-wide event will feature programs, information, vendors, food, entertainment and speakers while commemorating African American freedom and emphasizing education and achievement.

The event, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., is free and open to the public.

"We're inviting the community to the event ... to bridge all groups and organizations," said Gwen Allen-Carston, KBAC executive director and business owner. "This day will be one of history and knowledge."

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19 as the African American Emancipation Day has spread throughout the country, including Kent.

KBAC, a small organization that meets regularly and holds special events, is looking to grow in size and stature. It also is working to attract sponsorships, particularly to support its Juneteenth event.

"We hope Juneteenth will boost our membership," Allen-Carston said. "We want all to come out and share the experience."

This year's celebration will include a parent-student summit, encouraging students to write and read essays on why education is important. The summit and subsequent workshops were made possible through small grants from the Road Map Project, a community-wide effort to dramatically improve student achievement from cradle to college and career in South King County and South Seattle. Road Map Project partners, including nonprofit organizations, public health and housing agencies, school districts and parents, collaborated and co-designed the forum to address needs identified by parents.

The KBAC summit organizers welcome students and parents to participate in the essay program, an educational component to Juneteenth.

"We want to help create a formidable team with students and parents," said Richard Johnson, director of project funding for KBAC who was instrumental in obtaining the grants. "We want to address and close the achievement gap (in education)."

KBAC seeks a major co-sponsor for the event. If interested, please contact Johnson by May 20 at 253-631-7944 or ajrj01@msn.com.

To learn more about the organization, call 253-852-0614 or visit www.kentblackactioncommission.com.

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