Last updated: August 25. 2013 12:13AM - 327 Views

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LIMA — Dozens gathered at Lima’s Martin Luther King Jr. Center Park on Saturday to celebrate the Juneteenth Jubilee, a celebration that began when American slaves were freed 150 years ago.

The Cheryl Allen Center hosted the event, complete with food, crafts, a raffle and live entertainment.

More than anything though, Cheryl Allen Center Director Vickie Shurelds hoped the event would be a way to bring members of the community together as well as celebrate their heritage.

“This should be as big as the Fourth of July,” Shurelds said.

When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, the Juneteenth celebration was a holiday for the newly freed slaves. And Shurelds said it’s important for those today to remember the history and culture. Not only was the slavery an issue, but so was being able to read. Shurelds said the history is well worth celebrating and remembering, particularly because some of those problems continue in modern day.

“As a race of people, so many of our kids are struggling with reading. After all this time,” she said.

And some say the Cheryl Allen Center is a place to hopefully find refuge.

“When I was growing up as a kid, the Cheryl Allen Center used to pick us up every morning,” said Phillip Watson, 30, of Lima, who also emceed the entertainment at the Juneteenth Jubilee.

He recalls going swimming, playing basketball and having sleepovers all because of the community center.

“We’re trying to get that back and running again,” he said. “The main goal is to have people coming back to the center again. … It isn’t what it used to be.”

For Anthony Ellis, who organized the entertainment and performed under the stage name King Tainium at the event, it’s another activity where locals can gather and enjoy one another’s company. He said some complain of there not being anything to do in Lima.

“There’s still good things to do out here,” he said.

The Cheryl Allen Center will host a Summer Jam event at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center Park on July 5.

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