LIMA — City residents marked Juneteenth Saturday with an event at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center Park.
“We have partnered with the Council for the Arts of Great Lima to put on this Juneteenth event and it’s for cultural enrichment and for the community to just come out and celebrate, just have good time, have a family reunion,” said Sandra Bentley, vice president and program chairman of the Sigma Mu Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
“The sorority was looking for a way to get engaged in arts in the community and so they approached us at the Arts Council about some opportunities and we all agreed, one of the big things that we really need in the community is a serious celebration for Juneteenth,” said Bart Mills, executive director for the Council for the Arts of Greater Lima.
For many years, this celebration was dormant.
“We had several meetings and decided it was that we, meaning Limaites, participate in the Juneteenth celebration. It’s a festival that’s celebrated all across this country, so Lima needs to step up and do our part,” said Bentley.
The meaning of Juneteenth deals with the end of slavery in the United States.
“Back in 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves, the slaves in the southernmost portion of our country, in particular, Texas, did not hear word that they were free for two and one half years later so when they found out they, of course, they were jubilant and they celebrated and initially it was celebrated as Freedom Day and it has evolved into a celebration all across this country,” said Bentley.
The focus of the event in Lima was on the Harlem Renaissance period and the Black Arts movement.
The event featured live music and food trucks, and several community organizations set up booths at the park.
Mills is hoping the event can continue.
“What we really need now is for some young leadership to step up. To be honest with you, there’s no reason that a white guy ought to be doing this much work on a Juneteenth event and so we need to reach out and find some young people in this community, certainly younger than 50 anyway, to really learn how to do this work and put their energy, and frankly their aesthetic behind it,” said Mills.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.