24th Juneteenth Festival Returns to Oxnard
By Tim Pompey
The 24th annual Juneteenth Festival returns to Oxnard on Saturday, June 21, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Plaza Park on the corner of “C” and 5th Street in downtown Oxnard.
Serving as a yearly celebration of the freeing of slaves by the Emancipation Proclamation, the event features a wide array of African-American music, art, history, and culture.
Juneteenth co-coordinator Julia Dixon thinks this year’s festival is special because it includes appearances by historical African-American groups such as the Buffalo Soldiers from the 10th Calvary, the Black Cowboys of the Golden West, and the Tuskegee Airmen.
Dixon feels strongly that this is an important cultural event everyone can enjoy. “This isn’t an event just for African-Americans,” she said. “It’s a community event open to everyone and we want everyone to understand our history and culture.”
Returning to coordinate the music, local musicians Keyi and Silky, who make up the singing group KNS Rockstar, are particularly excited about the upcoming acts. “It’s on another level this year,” said Keyi. “Juneteenth in Oxnard has never had these kinds of legendary celebrities.”
Scheduled appearances include soul singer Howard Johnson (his single “So Fine” hit #1 in 1982), Miss Alynette from Q104.7 FM, and a concert by KNS themselves on their Stop the Bullying stage featuring the release of their new record “Welcome to Cali.”
Gospel music will be presented by headliner Daniel Anthony and gospel singing sensation Rose Nunnery.
Other music will include the singing of the national anthem by Sade Champagne, selections by the Oxnard High School Band, dance moves by award winning choreographer Tamarr Paul, and performances by pop artists Eleve’, Hamp, and Phamiliar.
“We’re trying to outdo ourselves,” Keyi stated, “and we encourage the whole family to come because we will be giving away gifts like Legoland family packs.”
The festival will also feature many community based activities, including a host of vendor booths, free health screenings, a car exhibit, a fashion show by Lowell Pumphrey, an art walk, and a Mess O’ Greens cook-off contest.
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the slaves in Texas were now free.
Dixon feels a strong sense of connection to Juneteenth because it highlights her own quest for freedom and independence. “For me, I always want to be part of something that makes people aware of our culture,” she explained. “I want people to be aware of that and to promote where we came from—from there to here—and some people need to remember that, whites as well as blacks.”
The Juneteenth Festival is sponsored by the Black American Political Association of California (BAPAC), a nonprofit organization that strives to identify, document, and develop the resources necessary to achieve the educational, economic, and cultural goals of African-Americans in the State of California.
For more information about Juneteenth activities or to discuss being a vendor, contact event chairs Julia Dixon or Angela Mitchell at (805) 901-3639 or (805) 889-0099, or email them firstname.lastname@example.org or AJCˍMitchell@hotmail.com.