UTICA — The Mid Utica Neighborhood Preservation Corp. will hold a Juneteenth/African American Heritage Day on Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. at Chancellor Park, on Elizabeth, Kent, Bleecker and Academy streets. The event is for all ages and celebrates heritage, culture and pride while acknowledging the national day of Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth” or called by some “African American Independence Day”) – where in 1865, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to ensure that all enslaved people knew they were free.
The event will feature music, food, health and education vendors, children’s activities, games, history, spoken word, an art project featuring educators from Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute.
“Most importantly,” organizers said, “it is a chance for the community to join in fellowship for one of the first public in-person events as pandemic guidelines are lifting.” Participants are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and all individuals who are not vaccinated are to wear a mask.
Among the events:
Noon – Program opens with “Lift Every Voice and Sing”
1/1:30 p.m. – Music by Trump Tight 315
4 p.m. – Cassandra Lockwood-Harris
Kids’ Activities by Teoka Mohammed: Black History Bingo, Black Pride Bingo, Potato Sack Race, Jump Rope Competition Relay Racing, Water Balloons and more!
Throughout the day: Individual singers, rap artists, spoken word artists, DJ between performances, announcements and speakers.
“This event is needed more than ever this year. After over a year of distancing, we are ready to come together to socialize with our friends, family and neighbors and what better way to do so than to celebrate Juneteenth together,” said facilitator Robbie Dancy.
The Oneida County Freedom Trail Commission will hold a Juneteenth Underground Railroad and Abolition Walking Tour tonight from 6 to 7 p.m., starting in the Adirondack Bank Parking lot at 120 Bleecker St.
The event is free, but space is limited to 25 people. Registration is available through Eventbrite, according to organizers.
On Sunday, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute will hold a Juneteenth Weekend Celebration to launch its newest exhibition Emma Amos: Color Odyssey and Call & Response: Collection African American Art. Music, craft kits for kids will take place from 2 to 4 p.m.
Utica Juneteenth T-shirts designed by local artist Dave Mentus will be available (while supplies last) at the MWPAI event. The shirts are made possible with support from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.
“Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is proud to support this local celebration of Juneteenth commemorating an important day in our nation’s history,” said Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Utica Regional President Eve Van de Wal. “We are committed to working with our community partners to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion not only in healthcare but in all aspects of our lives,” she added.