The public is invited to bring a big appetite and get ready to have fun as the Hermiston Cultural Awareness Coalition hosts a Juneteenth Celebration.

It will feature a barbecue, children’s games and fellowship. The family-friendly event is Saturday, June 19 from 4-8 p.m. at McKenzie Park, 320 S. First St., Hermiston. There is no admission fee.

While there are picnic tables at the park, those planning to attend may bring their own chairs or blankets. People also can bring their favorite lawn games.

John Carbage, president of the coalition, said some area churches have partnered with them to coordinate the event. Juneteenth, sometimes referred to as Freedom Day, Liberation Day or Emancipation Day — is celebrated on June 19. It commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States.

“It’s one of the most important holidays after the Emancipation Proclamation,” Carbage said. “Even though the slaves were free, it was 2 years later when all the slaves were really free.”

Carbage said many Black people at the time couldn’t read, so they weren’t aware of the implications when President Abraham Lincoln issued the proclamation. Denying people education, Carbage said, is a way of continuing to control them.

The holiday, Carbage said, is important because if people aren’t aware of history, they are doomed to repeat it. “That’s why we have to keep challenging the status quo,” he said. “We have to look forward and continue to make positive changes.”

The Hermiston Cultural Awareness Coalition meets the second Saturday of each month at 2 p.m. at the Hermiston United Methodist Church, 191 E. Gladys Ave. For more information about the celebration event or the coalition, contact Carbage at 541-701-7073 or jcarbage@yahoo.com.

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