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Nothing formal, but public invited to have some Juneteenth fun on Saturday

By James Grob,

Charles City’s Keisha Cunnings wants people to get together and have a little fun on June 19.

“I just felt like I wanted to do something, so this is just me, doing something,” Cunnings said. “We just want everyone to get together and have a good time.”

To celebrate the newly-declared federal holiday, Juneteenth, Cunnings is inviting anyone interested out to Lions Field Park at 2 p.m. Saturday to enjoy some music, food, softball and one another’s company.

Nothing formal, but public invited to have some Juneteenth fun on Saturday
Keisha Cunnings

“We’re just basically having a BBQ at Lions Field on Saturday,” Cunnings said. “People are more than welcome to come and hang out with us, and people can come out and grill if they want.”

Cunnings said it won’t be anything “super-huge,” and there won’t be any formal speakers or anything especially instructional or educational, but there will be some music, some slow-pitch softball and some food. People should bring their own food to grill, as Cunnings isn’t supplying enough for everyone.

“Anybody can show up, and eventually, over the years I hope that it can grow and we can make it more of a huge event,” she said.

Cunnings said that she was initially trying to plan a black-owned business and vendor show, but that fell through because there wasn’t enough time to get it organized.

“Then it was going to be nothing more than a few friends getting together, but now I’ve decided to open it up to more people, and I put it up on Facebook to let people know” Cunnings said. “So let’s just all celebrate and hang out together.”

Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery and is also known as Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day and Juneteenth Independence Day. Its name stems from June 19, 1865, when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas, issued General Order No. 3, which announced that in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation, “all slaves are free.”

President Joe Biden signed legislation on Thursday making Juneteenth a federal holiday, one day after the House voted overwhelmingly to enshrine June 19 as the national day to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

The Senate rushed the measure through with no debate earlier this week, and the House approved it on Wednesday by a vote of 415 to 14, with 14 Republicans opposed. Cunnings said getting the new law passed was “amazing” to her, and said she was very pleased and excited about it.

The law went into effect immediately, and the federal Office of Personnel Management announced on Thursday that most federal employees would observe it on Friday, since June 19 falls on a Saturday this year.

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