EVANSVILLE, Ind. — A 7-year-old lemonade entrepreneur was among those marking Juneteenth at Evansville’s second annual celebration Saturday, just days after it became a federal holiday.
Adri’Yana Jackson and her mother, Amitra, set up a booth selling several homemade lemonade flavors at the Juneteenth Community Block Party to help pay for the girl’s cheer lessons. She loves the activity because “in cheer when you fall, you can get back up,” Adri’Yana said.
The family was among many commemorating the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States at the gathering Saturday in a field near Culver Drive and Waggoner Avenue on Evansville’s South Side. The event runs until 8 p.m., with entertainment beginning at 4.
Dee Powers, who brought her daughter, said although she only celebrated Juneteenth sporadically growing up, she was pleased that it would be a federal holiday going forward.
“That’s pretty exciting, and I want my kids to take part in that, for sure,” she said. “… But even prior to it becoming a holiday, I’d want my kids to know what it was.”
On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, which makes June 19 a federal holiday. It is the date that Union forces arrived to announce and enforce the end of slavery in Galveston, Texas, and the farthest reaches of the former Confederate territories.
Indiana first officially celebrated Juneteenth in 2020.
Block party co-organizer Steven Hairston has mixed feelings about the bill, saying he appreciates the gesture but would rather have legislation that makes real change in Black communities.
The event wasn’t only about the holiday, he said. “We’re all just trying to bring the community back together” after the pandemic, he said, especially to support hard-hit local businesses.
Other local Juneteenth celebrations included ones at Ivy Tech Evansville, Lyles Station in Princeton, Bosse Field and Friedman Park in Newburgh.
The Book n’ Cook series — learning and cooking opportunities through a partnership between the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library, Legacy Taste of the Garden and Urban Seed — jump-started its summer events Saturday. The first event in the five-class series for third- through fifth-graders focused on celebrating Juneteenth through learning about African American farming roots and food culture.
A first-time vendor at the block party, Alvina Flowers, said it felt good to be a part of something supporting the Black community and Black-owned businesses.
“It feels like family,” Flowers said, and like family reunions, she was looking forward to enjoying the food, crafts and meeting other local business owners. Her business is Makeup by Alvina, through which she offers makeup artist services and sells natural, handmade lip glosses.
Flowers said she only became aware of Juneteenth as an adult.
“It wasn’t presented to me as a child,” she said. “As I’m starting to get older and understand, it’s a beautiful thing, knowing our history.”
Courtney Sharp traveled from West Palm Beach, Florida, to host a booth for her sport nutrition and vitamin supplement line called Sharp Elite Nutrition. An Owensboro native, she was looking forward to to visiting family and being a part of an event that unites Black-owned business and helps “spread financial equality.”
“Anything like this is a great opportunity,” she said. “We need more positive reasons to be featured in the media. You know, it’s always somebody got shot or somebody got arrested or something like that. This is something that is good for the community. It’s a positive impact on the community. It’s good for young kids to see Black business owners and to see themselves in a different light than living a life on the street.”
Originally Appeared Here