Ames BLM to host Juneteenth celebration with food, music, Black-owned businesses

Isabella Rosario
Ames Tribune

Ames Black Lives Matter is celebrating Juneteenth next weekend with an afternoon of food and music that will feature Black artists and businesses.

The community event will be held from noon to 6 p.m. June 19 on Marigold Drive. Dancing, spoken word poetry, face painting and water balloons will also be part of the festivities, according to an event flyer. Masks are required.

"We should celebrate our independence and our lives as Black people more than just one month of the year," Ames BLM organizer Jo Allen said, adding that the event is a way to "get people pumped up, come out and celebrate the community and find ways to get involved and learn."

Ames will join communities across the country in celebrating the holiday commemorating the end of U.S. slavery.

Previously: What to know about Juneteenth: Holiday marking Emancipation Proclamation takes on extra importance in 2020

President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War in 1863. More than two years passed before Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to inform enslaved African Americans of their freedom and effectively enforce the legislation. The celebration by formerly enslaved people that day turned into an annual one, with some families gathering in Galveston each year to pray, feast, sing and dance.

Today, 47 states and Washington D.C. recognize Juneteenth, including Iowa, which has officially observed the holiday since 2002. Ames Mayor John Haila gave a Juneteenth proclamation at the city council meeting Tuesday evening, where he said he urged citizens "to recognize this day, participate in dialogue with one another about its significance and support efforts to advance inclusivity and equality in the Ames community."

Allen said they hope to have educational pamphlets at the event that talk about the history of Juneteenth.

"I think a lot more people now are starting to celebrate (Juneteenth) ... but many of us don't necessarily know the history. I know that I don't know all the history about it because I wasn't taught about it in school," Allen said.

Black-owned businesses and startups at the event will include Chicago Treats, Simply Sámone, Stormy Weather Creations, Hibatullah, Booket & Bizy Beauty, STGMA and Mentoring for Change.

Black business owners who are interested in being an event vendor can email blmames@gmail.com. Donations to support the event can be sent via Venmo to @amesblm.

Isabella Rosario is a public safety reporter for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at irosario@gannett.com or on Twitter at @irosarioc.