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Girl painting name of African American life lost to police on banner in park.
An organizer paints Breonna Taylor's name on a banner that states "Say Their Names" at the Juneteenth celebration in Bridgeport Park. Jamie Araki / KHTS News.

Hundreds Gather In Valencia To Celebrate Juneteenth

Hundreds of community members gathered at Bridgeport Park to celebrate Juneteenth, Friday.

Local activism groups SCV for Change and SCV Workers for Equal Opportunity, in association with Real Generation Z, organized a socially-distanced Juneteenth picnic celebration on Friday. The event was honoring the 155th year since the total emancipation of enslaved African-American, officials said.

Juneteenth — which gets its name from a portmanteau combining “June” and “19th” — is a widely recognized holiday that commemorates the freeing of the last enslaved African-Americans living in Galveston, Texas, a part of the Confederate South, on June 19, 1865. They received word they were free more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

See Related: Juneteenth Recognized By Santa Clarita Representatives, Local Activists

“It’s a celebration of our independence. I know that Independence Day is in the 1700s, but that’s not our independence day,” said Lauryn Valley, an organizer for the event.

The goal of the event was to not only bring together the Santa Clarita community, but to also “show love to local Black-owned businesses, and highlight athletes, performers, art, and other work,” according to event organizers.

One featured vocalist spoke on the honor of performing at the Juneteenth event. 

“I was really, really excited to do it,” Zoe Rex, a local musical artist said. “All of this energy here right now is so incredible. It just feels good to be able to talk to everybody here and know that they all have the same mindset and the same agenda.”

African American musical artist performing for crowd in park

Local artist Zoe Rex performs in front of the Juneteenth crowd at Bridgeport Park. Jamie Araki / KHTS News.

A raffle was set up with prizes from local Black-owned businesses, with proceeds benefiting the Build Power and Black Lives Matter L.A. Youth organizations. 

Black-owned businesses included in the raffle were Rae Solar, DR Cookies Co., Beautiful I am, Buttafly Jonez, Happy Faces Co., Hair by Keshana, Krissy’s Handmade, Tonight Never Ends, DJ’s Mobile Car Wash, Embodied Essentials, Madison Rose Bakery, The Consciousness Doula and Sweetly Ever After Bakery.

The event was geared towards all ages, with many families with young children attending the event. 

5 year old girl painting name of African American life lost to police on banner in park.

Five year old Kenzie Hamadto paints another name on a banner stating “Say Their Names.” Jamie Araki / KHTS News.

“I think it is important to bring up these conversations with children when they are still young and make it something that they are not scared to talk about,” said Stephanie Hamadto, who brought her five year old daughter, Kenzie Hamadto, to the event. 

This year’s Juneteenth event gained a lot of traction during the recent Black Lives Matter movement in Santa Clarita.

The movement erupted after the recent death of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man who died in police custody after being arrested in Minneapolis.

See Related: Santa Clarita Black Lives Matter Protests Continue For Third Week

“I want (the community) to see this is what the reality is, this is what you’re ignoring. And if you’re ignoring it you’re part of the problem unless you’re trying to fix it,”  said Vincent Rangel, a demonstrator at Thursday’s Black Lives Matter event. 

Ed note: David Melnarik contributed to this report.

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Hundreds Gather In Valencia To Celebrate Juneteenth

3 comments

  1. Thank you white men for sacrificing 800,000 of your own people to make June-teenth possible. 1 of every 3 of you died.. You not only freed the 388,000 who were slaves in the USA but ended the slave trade of 11 million world wide..your example of freedom has transformed the world ever since.

  2. Corey, 200,000 black soldiers fought in the Civil War, most at first were in the Navy and then the Army began to allow them in. Approximately 40,000 died.

  3. Is the 800,000 you’re referring to the Union Army soldiers? Because we don’t need to thank the Confederate soldiers for Juneteenth.

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About Jamie Araki

Jamie is a photographer and journalist from Los Angeles, CA. She specializes in breaking news photojournalism, large event coverage and off-road sports photography. Jamie has been official media at events like King of the Hammers, LA Pride Parade and LA Comic Con. Jamie has been published multiple times, both in the US and in New Zealand.