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By Ladesha White
WATER VALLEY – Juneteenth Celebrations are scheduled in Oakland and Water Valley as the June 19 federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans approaches.
In Oakland, the Juneteenth Celebration starts Friday, June 16, with a street dance scheduled from 7 to 10:30 p.m. in downtown Oakland. The action continues, Saturday, June 17, with a bike and car show and parade at 11 a.m. along with live performances.
In Water Valley, the Juneteenth celebration is scheduled at Baker Street Park on June 17 and June 18. Organizer Terry Rockette reported the celebration is not only for the community of Water Valley, but for the entire county. There will be games, music, and activities including basketball along with the crowning Mr. and Ms. Juneteenth in different age groups ranging from eight months to 80 years old. There will also be arts and crafts and a variety of vendors for guests to enjoy and interact with one another. Bands, businesses, and pop-up shops are welcome to display at the event. Sponsors are also welcomed.
“I’m looking forward to inspiring our leaders who hold positions here to get more involved in activities,” Rockette explained. “We have the Christmas Parade, the Watermelon Carnival… but we have not established an African American cultural festivity here,” said Rockette. “I figured Juneteenth would be a perfect one because it took black and white individuals to abolish slavery, which created Juneteenth,” said Rockette.
Rockette, who founded Youth Vineyard in Water Valley, hopes the celebration will help bridge the gap between diversity and gender while promoting equality within the community.
“I really want to get it established because I grew up here as a kid and kids that I had as part of my youth organization when I started here are now grown and now have children, so it’s a repeated cycle. There are not enough diverse activities in town that display culture.”
Rockette also spoke about his dedication to creating a more diverse community.
“I always advocate diversity. I come from a background of diversity. My great-grandfather was white, so it’s important for me to not just speak on behalf of black people but also on behalf of biracial people.”
To learn more about the Water Valley event, view the Facebook page, Juneteenth Crowning 2023, or call 662-715-3621 to speak with Terry or Kim.