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Laurel Celebrates Juneteenth – Streetcar Suburb News

Laurel Celebrates Juneteenth – Streetcar Suburb News

BY AIESHA SOLOMON

Juneteenth Line Dancers will perform on the Harrison Burton Memorial Stage at Granville Gude Park during the Juneteenth Celebration on June 22.
Courtesy of Aiesha Solomon

On June 22, Laurel residents gathered in Granville Gude Park under the blazing summer sun to celebrate Juneteenth.

People cooled off in the shade of the trees, watched music and dance performances on the Harrison Burton Memorial Stage, browsed vendor booths, played games on the park’s playing field, and enjoyed food, drinks, and cool desserts.

As the city said in a press release, Juneteenth “commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for equality and justice.”

Laurel resident Tammy Faucette, who attended the celebration, shared her thoughts on the significance of Juneteenth.

“I think (celebrating it) is wonderful. I think it’s very necessary. We need to remember where we come from as a people. How we got here. What happened over the years, throughout the years, to today, because I think a lot of us young people have forgotten, so they need to know, and this holiday is a catalyst for our population and everyone, not just African Americans, but everyone. To know the history, to learn the history, to be proud of the history, right where we come from,” Faucette said at the event.

About 40 vendors participated in this year’s Juneteenth Celebration, according to Sandra Choute, chairwoman of the city’s Juneteenth Executive Planning Committee. She added that Sam’s Club provided free water.

“It’s grown. It’s grown tremendously. We have a lot more vendors. We had a lot more visibility leading up to the event with the billboards,” Ummi Modeste, secretary of the Juneteenth Executive Planning Committee, said in an interview at the event. “The electronic billboards all over the city, they’ve all been up since the beginning of June, they’ve all shown that it’s coming.”

Planning for the event began in September or October. Choute said the event typically costs between $4,000 and $5,000.

“We submit a budget to the city. If they can support us, we get it, but a lot of our … funding comes from vending applications that are submitted,” Choute said.

The Juneteenth flag-raising ceremony was held on June 19 at the Laurel Municipal Center.

“Yes, it was the first (Juneteenth) flag-raising ceremony in the city of Laurel. A historic moment for the city,” Choute wrote in the text.

The flag raising was a collaboration between the Juneteenth Executive Planning Committee and Mayor Keith Sydnor and his office.

About 50 people attended the flag raising, according to City Councilor Kyla Clark (Ward 2), a member of the Juneteenth Executive Planning Committee.

“I hope people see, not only from this (Juneteenth Celebration) that we have here, but also from the Juneteenth flag, that we’ve come a long way, especially in America, and we’re making a lot of progress when it comes to diversity, respect, morality and ethics, but we have a long way to go and we have to do it together,” Clark said. “We are stronger together to fight hate, crime, racism, but we can’t do it alone, so we have to help each other and support each other, even if (those things) don’t affect us directly.”