Oceanside festival celebrates ‘Juneteenth’

OCEANSIDE — Two downtown blocks held the annual Juneteenth celebration on June 18. The all-day street festival included nonstop entertainment, comfort food, vendors and health information.

Juneteenth celebrates the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, which was signed to free slaves in 1826. Even after President Lincoln signed the document some southern regions refused to accept that the South had lost, and battles continued.

In 1865 the final battle was held. Soldiers marched into Galveston, Texas, to enforce absolute equality.

The following year Texans began holding an annual remembrance of June 19.

The annual celebration is known as the African American equivalent of the Fourth of July.

Satia Austin, North San Diego County NAACP president, said for her the day is about supporting each other and building a better community and country.

The gathering on Saturday carried all the warmth and joy of the unofficial holiday.

On the center stage gospel groups, contemporary vocalists, jazz bands and youth groups performed, after a formal opening ceremony.

The west end of the event had information booths on health insurance, HIV and hepatitis C, and women’s health. Vista Community Clinic engaged attendees with an interactive prize wheel, health information and giveaways.

The Susan G. Komen mobile health van was on site to provide mammograms at no cost to low-income women. Raquel Pitsenberger, of San Diego, said the service is a godsend. She does not have health insurance and has never had a mammogram.

The day was family-friendly with a kids’ game area, jump houses and nearby food and tables. It also provided an opportunity for people to network.

There were 40 vendor, community service group and college booths.

Miss California Regional scholarship pageant winners had a booth to meet fans, and talk about their platforms, which include solving senior homelessness and stopping bulling. The scholarship pageant recognizes academic achievement, social contribution and beauty.

The local Juneteenth celebration is organized by North San Diego County NAACP. A portion of this year’s proceeds go to the group’s Back to School/Stay in School program. The group’s mission is to empower underserved communities with knowledge to improve their social and economic status.

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