State Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, speaks at the 2022 Juneteenth celebration in Kent. This year’s event is June 17 at the Kent YMCA. Behind Orwall from left to right are Gwen Allen-Carston, Michael Powers and Charles Carston. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent Black Action Commission

State Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, speaks at the 2022 Juneteenth celebration in Kent. This year’s event is June 17 at the Kent YMCA. Behind Orwall from left to right are Gwen Allen-Carston, Michael Powers and Charles Carston. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent Black Action Commission

Juneteenth celebration in Kent set for Saturday, June 17

Event will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Kent YMCA on East Hill

The Kent Black Action Commission will present its annual Juneteenth Freedom Day celebration from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 17 at the Kent YMCA, 10828 SE 240th St.

Juneteenth is a nationally recognized holiday (June 19) that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. It commemorates the day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce and enforce the end of slavery. The announcement came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.

“It means celebrating what we have come through. …because of the hard work of the people who came before us and stood steadfast no matter what, we are here,” said Gwen Allen-Carston, executive director of the Kent Black Action Commission, at the June 6 Kent City Council meeting.

At that meeting, Mayor Dana Ralph proclaimed Monday, June 19 as Juneteenth Day in Kent.

“We acknowledge Black freedom and achievements within this community,” Ralph said as part of the proclamation. “We would specifically like to recognize and offer thanks to the Kent Black Action Commission for their founding and continued work in the observance of Juneteenth and are grateful for their contributions to our city; and we appreciate the Black experience and celebrate the inclusion of all races, ethnicities, and nationalities; and we commit to working together to achieve equity for all.”

Allen-Carston said normally the event is at Morrill Meadows Park, but the park is under renovation so the group will move next door to the YMCA.

“There will be soul food, greens and baked beans and all kinds of stuff,” Allen-Carston said.

Michael Powers, a Seattle jazz guitarist, will perform from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

“We are going to make sure that it’s a day to remember and everyone is invited,” Allen-Carston said.




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