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Juneteenth Festival Returns to Oxnard

BAPAC Juneteenth 300x165 Juneteenth Festival Returns to Oxnard

BAPAC members prepare for the Juneteenth celebration during a planning meeting. (Photo Credit: Mr. Robert Jeffreys)

By Tim Pompey

The 23rd annual Juneteenth Festival returns to Oxnard on Saturday, June 15th, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Plaza Park on the corner of “C” and 5th Street in downtown Oxnard.

Juneteenth is what festival chair Julia Dixon calls a “celebration of freedom.” For her, this event is a day when the local black community can get together and commemorate its unique culture. “Juneteenth celebrates African American history,” said Dixon. “There are very few times that we actually get to do that.”

Juneteenth is also closely tied to important African American historical events such as Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the abolition of slavery.

For Don Montgomery, chairman of the Ventura County Chapter of the Black American Political Association of California (BAPAC), June 19 is as important a moment to the African American community as the 4th of July is to American independence.

Juneteenth, otherwise known as Black Independence Day, marks the time when slaves in Texas first learned that slavery had been abolished. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation had been in effect since January 1, 1863, the news didn’t reach Texas until June 19, 1865. Since then, the black community here in the U.S. has celebrated this day annually.

“The battle for human dignity and the ‘unalienable rights’ stated in the Declaration of Independence is never ending,” said Montgomery. “Because of that, it is important that we celebrate a victory as significant as the one that Juneteenth commemorates.”

Oxnard’s Juneteenth festival is a free multicultural event featuring live entertainment, food, a health fair, and a new traveling exhibition of African American history called “Forgotten Images.”

“Forgotten Images” is a collection of memorabilia from 1880 to the present. It includes custom displays for Martin Luther King, Jr., birthday celebrations, African American History Month, Black Music Month, and many other exhibits.

Dixon is excited about the addition of the exhibition to this year’s festival. “The people who are bringing it to us (David and Sharon McLucas) were originally from Oxnard,” she said. “So it makes it special for them to bring it back here.”

The display will be located directly across from Plaza Park at the Church for the Nations and will be open June 14th and 15th from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

As for entertainment, Oxnard musical artists KNS Rockstar return to coordinate more than 20 live music acts, including pop artists from the Bay Area, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and the Antelope Valley. The acts will feature a variety of genres, including gospel, inspiration, Christian music, R&B, pop, and dance.

KNS will also perform new music from their soon to be released album titled “The Other Side.”

In addition, they have lined up some custom car exhibitions that will be featured next to the stage. Extreme and custom cars are being provided by the Swist Car Club, Explicit Car Club, and Mopart Connected.

KNS view their participation in Juneteenth as their moment to join in celebrating African American Culture. “Juneteenth is part of our culture,” said KNS singer and songwriter Silky, “and the entertainment is part of who we are. Anytime we celebrate something, that’s where we come together and make the soul happy.”

Montgomery sees Juneteenth as a time when people from all cultures, particularly those who have immigrated to the U.S., can get together and become better acquainted. As he noted, “Every ethnic group that has immigrated to this country has faced struggles. The more we understand our commonality, the less we tend to ‘otherize’ each other.”

The Juneteenth festival is hosted by BAPAC. For sponsorship and vendor opportunities, email juneteenth.vendors@gmail.com. For additional information about the Juneteenth festival, contact Julia Dixon at (805) 901-3639 or Angela Mitchell at (805) 486-4866.

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