New partners will join forces this year to host a series of Juneteenth celebrations that will stretch across Boulder County.

In Longmont, the city and community education and advocacy groups Families of Color Colorado and The Executive Committee for African American Cultural Events are coming together for a Juneteenth Celebration. It will take place from 1 to 6 p.m. June 19 at Roosevelt Park, 700 Longs Peak Ave. The event is free and open to the public.

Shiquita Yarbrough, Longmont councilmember and co-founder of Families of Color Colorado, is an event organizer for the Longmont celebration. She said she wanted to create a local celebration that would unite people in learning more about Black culture.

“Especially being the first African American to be on Council for the city of Longmont, I wanted an opportunity to bring our community together in a more organic way,” Yarbrough said. “I think that’s how we can all come together is by understanding one another… because we are all neighbors.”

The Longmont celebration will include a keynote speech by U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette, Colorado’s first African American congressman. There will also be food, live music and a fashion show led by Prep Curry, who Yarbrough recognized as the first Black Banana Republic designer.

The Executive Committee for African American Cultural Events will partner with the NAACP Boulder County to host five days of Juneteenth events.

Madelyn Strong Woodley, ECAACE executive director, said what she looks forward to most in this year’s Juneteenth events is “participation from the community.”

Among the festivities, the group is hosting youth art development workshops and a showcase. The workshops will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 18 at the Longmont Museum, 400 Quail Road. Youth 10 to 18 are encouraged to take part in the free workshops, which include African dancing, singing and drumming led by Selasee Atiase, Nyasha Davis-James, Frank Ray Jr. and Mario McCorvey. Youth can sign up online at bit.ly/3tfSXrk.

The ECAACE will also conduct Juneteenth flag-raising ceremonies in Longmont, Boulder and Erie. Strong Woodley encouraged other Boulder County cities to follow suit.

The Juneteenth events will culminate with the Longmont event and a Boulder Celebration of Black Excellence, in which Black Boulder Valley and St. Vrain Valley graduates will be honored from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Boulder High School. Students will be gifted kente cloths, an annual NAACP membership and a monetary gift, according to the NAACP’s website.

DeAndre Taylor, ECAACE’s program director, said the Juneteenth events are led by Boulder County leaders for their residents.

“Juneteenth is about celebration and making sure we understand what the past taught us,” Taylor said. “It also gives us hope that when we put our minds toward justice … we can achieve that.”

Juneteenth became a federally recognized holiday last year, with the Longmont City Council voting in April to approve it as a city holiday. Also known as Freedom Day, it marks the day federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to tell enslaved people that they were free.

Vendors and sponsors are needed for the Longmont event. Those interested can sign up online at longmontjuneteenth.com. A full list of events, including details on Juneteenth flag-raising ceremonies, can be found online at: bit.ly/3apSOLi.

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Kelsey Hammon
2022-06-05 18:00:41
Boulder Daily Camera
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