By Leslie Radford: Freedom Newspapers
For more than 10 years, Clovis has been celebrating Juneteenth, an event that began in Texas to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of slavery in America.
Juneteenth celebrates African-American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement, according to Candice Tyler, an event coordinator for Clovis’ Juneteenth celebration.
“It’s important to remember our ancestors, our past and move on to the future,” said Tyler, who started the first Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant in the area.
Tyler said the scholarship will be given in memory of Grace Jones, a Clovis schools principal who died a few months ago. Clovis Community College has donated a scholarship and more than $1,500 has been collected in donations for scholarships. The pageant begins at 1 p.m. at the Juneteenth Extravaganza on Saturday at Potter Park located between Grand and Seventh Streets on Upsilon Street.
“Juneteenth is similar to the Mexican Cinco de Mayo,” said Barbara Singleton, also an event coordinator for the free event. “It’s just a time to get together and reflect on our past. It’s always a lot of fun for the entire family.”
Singleton said there will be plenty of activities for children and adults like three-legged racing, sack races, gospel music, guest speakers and free swimming.
Rev. David Dawson of Clovis said he attends the event regularly. Last year, he sang with a gospel group.
“I tell people I’m black 365 days a year,” Dawson said. “I don’t need anyone to tell me that. History has shown that back in the days of slavery, it wasn’t just the black people who wanted to be free. Many Christians — black, blue, pink or green — they wanted the slaves to be free. I think this is a great celebration for people to come together and celebrate that aspect.”
Tyler agrees with the reverend that Juneteenth is a celebration that crosses racial and cultural bounds.
“This event is not just for the black community,” Tyler said. “It’s for everybody. This is everybody’s history.”
Potter Park events
• 10 a.m. — Opening ceremonies
• 12 p.m. — Free food
• 1 p.m. — Miss Juneteenth Pageant, Little Miss Juneteenth showcase
• 3 p.m. — Raffle winner announced followed by talent show
• Cannon Air Force Base K-9 Unit demonstrations
• 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. — Clovis Carver Library Summer Reading Program
• Free swimming from 1p.m.-5 p.m.
• Safety House from the fire department
• McGruff from the Police department
• 3-on-3 basketball tournament
• Vendor booths
• DJ Gonzo will provide music