To celebrate the newest federal holiday, Juneteenth, Centre County residents are preparing for a weekend of activities and events, while officials are still searching for whoever was behind vandalizing the well-known M.L.K plaza.
To celebrate the historic moment in our nation’s history, the State College NAACP and local activist will be hosting Juneteenth events all weekend long.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. The day represents the last of enslaved African Americans in the United States learning of their new freedom, that had been established nearly three years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
“We are signing into law Juneteenth as a federal holiday at the same time of trying to get eradicate slavery in textbooks,” says Tierra Williams, creator of Black Tea. “So, it’s kind of like are you giving me this, so I’m not concerned about this anymore? So, as long as people acknowledge that the work still has to continue and there’s still things to be done, then I’m okay with it. Even today we’re still not as free as we could be.”
Organizers say celebrations of Juneteenth are to reflect on the past, while empowering the future.
“I think that it shows we’re starting to acknowledge all people who were born here in America,” says Penn State Graduate Student Latisha Franklin. “Acknowledge their history plays a part in American history, instead of just having a very white history that is shown and taught in textbooks and things because Juneteenth is now a part of the history we should teach.”
And as the community prepares to celebrate, suspects are still wanted for the M.L.K Plaza vandalism from weeks ago, leaving many residents still upset.
“There will always be a racist, there will always be someone trying to disrupt what’s being built.”
Police are now offering a $3,000 reward for anyone with information that could help the investigation.
“It’s not going to stop what we’re doing,” says Franklin. “It’s not like we’re going to stop doing things and being around and having these celebrations.”
Events begin on Friday at the Juneteenth jubilee, then beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, a Freedom Flex, followed by performers taking over the MLK Plaza, and film screenings throughout the day.
Sunday is to bring community members together. Williams says, it’s all about educating.
“I think that we are highlighting the Black community here in multiple ways in multiple different lights and allowing them to show their different talents and how they can contribute to the community.”
State College police are still asking anyone with information about the vandalism at the MLK Plaza to give them a call.