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KBAC presents Juneteenth celebration on Saturday

KBAC
KBAC's Gwen Allen-Carston, Linda Sweezer and Azalea and Richard Johnson attend the June 4 Kent City Council meeting to hear Mayor Suzette Cooke proclaim June 15 as Juneteenth Day in Kent.
— image credit: Steve Hunter/Kent Reporter

Reporter staff

The Kent Black Action Commission (KBAC) presents the second annual Juneteenth celebration on Saturday at the Kent Senior Center.

The community-wide event features programs, information, vendors, food, entertainment and speakers while commemorating African American freedom and emphasizing education and achievement.

The event, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., is free and open to the public. The center is at 600 E. Smith St.

"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."

Mayor Suzette Cooke has proclaimed June 15 as Juneteenth Day in Kent.

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)."

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

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