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10th Annual Juneteenth Community Celebration is planned June 18 in Fort Myers

The Dunbar Festival Committee and the Lee County Black History Society are partnering to host the 10th Annual Juneteenth Community Celebration at Roberto Clemente Park in Fort Myers from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 18.

This years’ Juneteenth Celebration will be filled with a variety of fun and entertainment for the entire family, including stage performances, music, arts and crafts, food and refreshments. Event attendees will also have an opportunity to receive free information from community businesses in the areas of wealth, health, education, job training, employment, housing, corporate and governmental services and more.

“Juneteenth is a family-oriented celebration that focuses on community as well as recounting the stories of the past,” said Charles Barnes, chairperson of the Lee County Black History Society. “Juneteenth celebrations strive to acknowledge the wrongs that were committed by slavery and help to raise the descendants up by concentrating on education and personal achievements.”

Juneteenth, which has been celebrated since the late 1800s, was finally recognized as a federal holiday in 2021. A special historical exhibit about Florida’s Emancipation Day May 20 and Juneteenth will be available at Williams Academy Black History Museum at Clemente Park at the festival and through the end of June.

Juneteenth is always observed on or around June 19, the day that slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned that they had been freed, more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston and read General Order Number 3 to the people. Celebrations started in the following years as a way for former slaves to reconnect and recount the day their freedom was announced. Many of the first Juneteenth celebrations were held on the grounds of African American churches and eventually became more elaborate with rodeos, picnics, barbecues, fishing trips and family reunions.

For more information on participating as a performer, contact members of the Dunbar Festival Committee: Kimberly Thomas, 239-878-3946; Tonya Cola, 239-823-2153; or Vonda Curry, 239-634-7110. Interested vendors can register through the Dunbar Festival Committee’s Facebook page.

About Lee County Black History Society

The Lee County Black History Society, Inc. (LCBHS), a nonprofit organization, was founded in 1994 by Janice Cass. The LCBHS, Inc. is comprised of an 11-member Board of Directors which meets on the second Tuesday of each month. The meeting is open to the public. Cass’s objectives for establishing the LCBHS was to provide a way for African Americans in Lee County to recognize and celebrate Black History Month, as well as creating the Williams Academy Black History Museum. Black History Month, Legends Gala, Florida Emancipation Day May 20 celebration event, Juneteenth and Holiday in the Park are events presented each year by LCBHS through partnerships with other community-based organizations, churches and private citizens. For information, visit LeeCountyBlackHistorySociety.org, email blackhistory@lesscountyblackhistorysociety.org or call 239-332-8778.

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