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    Juneteenth in Naples: a great day to "understand and celebrate"

    By Ellessandra Taormino, Naples Daily News,

    30 days ago
    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=13SEnM_0tp427gr00

    This Saturday, two events across Collier and Lee County will celebrate the most recently adopted federal holiday: Juneteenth. The two events welcome everyone who wishes to attend.

    When is Juneteenth, what is it and other facts

    • President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Act in 2021, making Juneteenth the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
    • The holiday traces its origin to Galveston, Texas where Union soldiers arrived on June 19, 1865 and delivered news that the Civil War had ended and slavery was abolished.
    • Juneteenth derives its name from a combination of "June" and "nineteenth" for the day that Union soldiers delivered the news of emancipation.
    • Juneteenth is also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Liberation Day, African American Freedom Day, or Juneteenth Independence Day.

    Naples Juneteenth Celebration Saturday at River Park center

    On Saturday, June 15 the NAACP of Collier County will sponsor its annual Juneteenth Celebration. The celebration will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at River Park Community Center, 301 11th St. N., Naples.

    “We invite everyone from the general public because it’s a great day for us all to fully understand and celebrate," said Vincent Keeys, president of the NAACP of Collier County since 2016.

    The family-friendly event will feature food, informational booths, presentations, dance groups, and music. This year, the celebration will include an informational booth on voting in the upcoming presidential election.

    “One of our key items in the NAACP of Collier County, of course, is to remind people of the upcoming election and how important it is,” said Keeys. "We want to make sure people who use mail-in ballots know that they have to reregister again this year."

    The NAACP of Collier County has held their celebration annually since 2022, making this the third NAACP of Collier Juneteenth Celebration. As president, Keeys is in charge of finding a chair or co-chairs to organize the event.

    “They are the ones who are are going to create the program, identify all of the vendors that are going to participate, and secure all of the food, entertainment, and items that would be necessary for the event to be a success," said Keeys.

    For the past three years, the event has been held at River Park Community Center. The choice to hold the Juneteenth Celebration at River Park is purposeful as River Park is Naples's only historically Black neighborhood. However, according to Keeys, event attendance has grown steadily with each year.

    “In coming years, we may have to shift our Jubilee celebration to take place in the county as opposed to the city," said Keeys.

    For vendor and entertainment information/opportunities, call 239-784-4241 or see naacpcolliercounty.org/.

    Fort Myers Juneteenth Celebration Saturday at Clemente Park

    Also on Saturday, the Lee County Black History Society will be hosting its annual Juneteenth Celebration in partnership with the Dunbar Festival and the S.T.A.R.S Complex. The celebration will take place from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Roberto Clemente Park, 3265 Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd, Fort Myers. The event is free to attend.

    "We want the community to get involved and know that there is an event that recognizes a great milestone in this country," said Charles Barnes, chairman of the Lee County Black History Society.

    Juneteenth has been a federally recognized holiday since 2021, but the historic society has hosted celebrations for years. The society was founded in 1994 by attorney and educator Janice Cass. This year's celebration will be their 12th annual event for the holiday.

    "One reason she founded this society was because those kinds of events were not really happening in this community," said Barnes. "She really wanted to bring focus back on this event."

    The celebration's theme is "Their Wildest Dreams" which emphasizes the accomplishments and contributions of the Black community in the United States and around the world despite their history of enslavement and discrimination. At the event, Lee County students will receive an award for their academic and community service achievements as part of the Celebrating and Recognizing Students' Success (CARSS) Program.

    "We talk about Juneteenth and our struggles, but we also talk about the aftermath of our struggles and how our contributions to this country have been so important," Barnes said. "It is important that we emphasize that with the youth in our community and look at how things have changed for the better."

    The family-oriented celebration will feature a range of activities including stage performances, bounce houses, music, arts and crafts, food vendors and refreshments. Attendees will also have a chance to receive free information from various community businesses including wealth, health, education, corporate and government services, job training, employment and housing.

    For more information visit the Lee County Black History Society website, email BlackHistory@LeeCountyBHS.org, or call 239-332-8778.

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