ALTON — The 23rd annual Alton Juneteenth Celebration will be held Saturday, June 14, at James H. Killion Park at Washington and Salu streets.
The 2014 host is the Alton Section-National Council of Negro Women. The celebration will begin with a kickoff event featuring gospel singer and preacher Marvin Sapp on Thursday, June 12. Pastor Marvin Sapp will be guest speaker from 7 until 9 p.m. at the Bread of Life Fellowship Church, Pastor Gregory Denton, 5000 Humbert Road in Godfrey.
The council is asking for general admission donations of $25. Because of great demand, VIP admission donations tickets are sold out. Tickets can be purchased at the Alton YWCA, 304 E. Third St., Alton, or contact the YWCA at (618) 465-7774. Seating is limited. For this event, tickets are required for admission. Doors will open up at 6 p.m. For all who purchased VIP tickets, there will be a meet and greet with Pastor Marvin Sapp from 5:15 until 6:30 p.m.
All those who purchased tickets for the Thursday event will be eligible for a special drawing at the Saturday event. Three tablets will be given away. Ticket-holders must be present to win the tablet.
The Saturday, June 14, celebration is scheduled from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Opening ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. State, county and city officials will be present. The featured performers include Alton’s own Secretary of State Jesse White, who will be present with his performing tumblers, the Katherine Dunham Dancers, capoeira dancers, Genesis Arts Ministry and recording artists Saman and Ray Cole, courtesy of ISM records. There will be storytelling by Charlotte Johnson and recitations by local poets.
Health professionals from Saint Anthony’s Health Center will conduct free blood pressure and blood sugar screenings. Southern Illinois University Dental School representatives will teach participants about proper oral hygiene (free toothbrushes and toothpaste will be given away). An Alton Memorial EMS unit will be available. Wellness on Wheels will be present for free HIV screenings and information along with Madison County AIDS Foundation. American Diabetes Association and the American Red Cross will be present. The American Red Cross will have information on disaster preparedness. Alton Fire Department will be present with a smoke house. Vendors will provide crafts, art, food and snacks. Information vendors will include United Way, Coalition for Concerned Citizens, Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, Illinois Department of Traffic and Safety, Voter’s Registration, Alton YWCA, Aces 4 Youth, Universal Art and Language, ACHAMPS’ Ministries, Senior Services Plus, Friends of Sixties and Madison County Transit.
Special activities for children include portable rock-climbing wall, clowns, craft booths and face-painting. For information, contact Abe Barham at (618) 799-9147, Ann Johnson at (618) 466-9369 or Marquato Rattler at (618) 910-7422.
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 that Union soldiers, led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, with news of the war’s end and the slaves’ emancipation, 2 1/2 years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans because of the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the executive order. But with the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee in April 1865, and the arrival of Granger’s regiment, the forces finally were strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.