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Antelope Valley Juneteenth celebrations

Leah Clouden | 6/14/2013, midnight

— Juneteenth is a worldwide African American celebration commemorating the date (June 19) in 1865 when many slaves in Texas learned they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation (Jan. 1, 1863), two and a half years after President Lincoln issued the document. It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

The celebration began in Galveston, Texas, as African American Emancipation Day and has spread internationally to countries such as Japan and South Korea.

According to the website www.juneteenth.com, at the beginning Juneteenth celebrations were a time African Americans reassured each other, prayed and gathered remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage to Galveston on this date.

In contemporary times, there has been an effort to turn the day into an official national recognition.

Robinson Park in Littlerock, will host a celebration on June 14, 15 and 16 featuring a drill team competition, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, entertainment by local talent, arts and craft and food booths, carnival games, raffles and more, from 5-8 p.m. at the park, 8773 East Avenue R. The event is free. For additional information, contact Peg Lee at jrpark2@juno.com or (661) 944-2880.

The Friends of Jackie Robinson Park hosts the third annual Miss Juneteenth Sun Village Pageant June 15 at Jackie Robinson Park, 8773 East Ave. R, Sun Village, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Participating age brackets range from 6 months to 18 years old. For more info, (661) 480-MISS.