June 14, 2012

Wichita’s Juneteenth celebration returns this weekend

June 19, or Juneteenth, marks the day in 1865 that slaves in Galveston, Texas, were finally emancipated.

June 19, or Juneteenth, marks the day in 1865 that slaves in Galveston, Texas, were finally emancipated.

The day is celebrated around the nation with parades, barbecues and prayer services. Last year, there was no parade in Wichita.

Mary Dean, chairwoman for this year’s Juneteenth parade, wants to restart the tradition.

“This is history that our children should always know about that’s not told in the history books,” Dean said. “We don’t want this to fade; we don’t want this to go away. We want this history to stay in the forefront of Wichita, Kansas.”

With the goal of keeping Wichita’s Juneteenth celebration alive, parade organizers contacted Jean Carter-Boniface, founder of H.O.P.E. Inc., about combining the Juneteenth parade with her annual health fair on Saturday.

Carter-Boniface was more than happy to oblige.

“Juneteenth celebrates African-American freedom and achievements,” Carter-Boniface said. “And H.O.P.E. stands for Helping Our People Economically. Individuals and organizations came together because they did not want Juneteenth to die.”

The Juneteenth parade begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday on Opportunity Drive in front of the Boys & Girls Club near 21st and Grove and will end at the H.O.P.E. Inc. offices on North Battin. Then the health fair will begin.

The theme of this year’s health fair is “Children Today Preparing for a Healthier Future.” Attendees can expect free health screenings, food for purchase, coupons from sponsors, storytelling from the African American Museum and a health knowledge competition that determines the king and queen of the health fair.

Organizers want the partnership between H.O.P.E. Inc and Juneteenth celebrations to continue in the future. They also would like to move the celebration to McAdams Park to make room for more vendors and participants next year.

“We got to keep it going on, keep Juneteenth alive in Wichita with H.O.P.E.,” Carter-Boniface said.

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