Randolph Street Community Garden celebrates freedom, voting rights on Juneteenth

The+community+comes+together+at+the+Randolph+Street+Community+Garden+during+a+Juneteenth+celebration.+Land+lead+of+RSCG+Dawn+Blackman+speaks+on+the+celebration+of+Juneteenth+alongside+the+celebration+of+the+holiday+being+held+on+Sunday+at+the+RSCG+which+will+consist+of+food%2C+art%2C+parades%2C+and+more+until+dark.+

Photo courtesy of Randolph Street Community Garden

The community comes together at the Randolph Street Community Garden during a Juneteenth celebration. Land lead of RSCG Dawn Blackman speaks on the celebration of Juneteenth alongside the celebration of the holiday being held on Sunday at the RSCG which will consist of food, art, parades, and more until dark.

By Dayae Lee, Assistant News Editor

On Sunday, the Randolph Street Community Garden will be hosting its annual celebration of Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans following the end of the Civil War. 

“Juneteenth is the celebration of the final freedom for African Americans,” Dawn Blackman said, the land lead for RSCG. “Even though the war was over, and African Americans were free in 1865, there were pockets in Texas where the slave holders continued to hold their bondsman. And so during the month of June, the federal government sent soldiers there to free them. And so since that time, Juneteenth has been celebrated.”

The celebration will take place on Sunday from 10 a.m. until dark near the intersection of Neil Street and Beardsley Avenue in Champaign. The event will open up with a parade and will continue with food and art projects from Seitu Jones and other local organizations. 

“We’ll have games, voter registration and just have a good time,” Blackman said. “It’s a general celebration.”

Blackman also said that another major aspect of Juneteenth was voter registration, since it was “also the point at which African Americans began to organize to vote.”

“One of the main activities for Juneteenth celebrations was voter registration and studying for the different tests and things that had been put in place to block African Americans from voting,” Blackman said.

Accordingly, the Sunday event, which occurs during the early voting period for this year’s primary election, also celebrates voting rights.

“This year, the Sunday program takes place during early voting,” Blackman said. “So we’re inviting folks who are voting on that Sunday to come celebrate having voted.”

Blackman, who has been the steward of RSCG since 2006, said that the garden has “always celebrated Juneteenth.”

“It’s grown over the years,” Blackman said. “And some years, it’s on a weekday so we have it in the evening and just have a light brunch and celebrate the final freedom and do voter registration.”

 

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