Juneteenth weekend filled with multiple celebratory events

Plamedie Ifasso
The Daily Ardmoreite

Several business leaders and nonprofit organizations are partnering together to host a Juneteenth soiree June 18 - June 20. Some of the organizations involved with the creation of the events include Gabby’s Southern Cuisine, Gemini Entertainment, Restoring Lives, Journey Daycare, Real Dads Do Real Things, Ray of Sunshine Sweets and Treats and Kingz of the South MC Group. 

Shenita Jones, CEO of Restoring Lives, said for her the goal of the weekend is to celebrate Juneteenth and let the community know more about their organizations. 

“I hope they come out and enjoy their families with us,” Jones said. “Also, there was a great accomplishment that seven or eight businesses came together to be able to make that happen, and businesses and organizations of color. They’re all black owned businesses. I think everyone owns a for profit business, even though it might not be at the table, and three of us own nonprofits.” 

Vendors are also welcome at the events. There is a $100 vendor fee that allows them to sell the entire weekend. For more information about being a vendor, those interested can contact Dereque Jones at 832-640-5101. Jones said the organizers wanted to open the opportunity up to vendors in hopes of getting more business and organizations involved in the event. 

“That’s just a great way to get other organizations and businesses involved and offer an opportunity to get [them] in front of our audience, but also for you to bring your audience to us,” Jones said. “I call it community, and when I say community, I always capitalize the unity because that’s what we really want to have.” 

Dimitri Dorsey said the original idea behind inviting vendors came from the desire to support black owned organizations. 

“The reason I first came up with that thought was to help support black owned businesses,” Dorsey said. “You don’t have to be black to be a vendor, but the thought behind it was to support and publicize black owned businesses.” 

The first event for the weekend is the Friday Night Soiree jazz concert on June 18 starting 6 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at the Market Place on Broadway and will feature artists such as Don Diego. The next day, June 19, there will be a Juneteenth celebration at Whittington Park. 

The event will begin at 11 a.m. and end at 8 p.m., and will have a talent show, poetry contest, bounce houses, three on three basketball tournament, free food, a cultural African drummer, raffle tickets and information on Juneteenth. Dorsey, who is in charge of the Saturday celebration in Whittington Park, said he hopes people leave the event with a great and being more educated on Juneteenth. 

“Once I really got educated on [Juneteenth], I realized how important it was to my culture, to my ancestors and to me,” Dorsey said. “I felt like I was called on to be a part of it in any way. I’ve been doing my best and doing whatever I can to make sure people get to enjoy and be a part of the celebration.” 

Later that night, there will be a movie night showcasing the movies “Red Tails” and “Soul” at the Market Place from 6 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Cedric Bailey will also be speaking on the impacts of Black Wall Street as well as Lincoln Ragsdale, a civil rights activist, Tuskegee airmen and former Ardmore native. 

“Our great grandparents had to basically start all over,” Bailey said. “They had to pack up all their belongings. Sometimes we have to step out on faith just like they did.” 

Bailey said the entire weekend couldn’t have been possible without the collaborations between the many organizers and hopes people come out of the events understanding the importance of partnerships. 

“Sometimes, we have to partner and come together, and we go out in the community,” Bailey said. We have to stick together and be able to learn how to work together. Just like those people did back in that period, they worked together and were successful, we can do the same thing.” 

The Juneteenth weekend celebrations will end on June 20 with a Father’s Day Brunch starting 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Market Place. Proceeds from the brunch will go to Restoring Lives, Strength in Numbers and Real Dads do Real Things. 

Jonathan Willis started Real Dads do Real Things last year in the hopes of inspiring dads to be great and creating positive father figures for the community. Willis said his goal of the event is provide fathers with a great time. 

“I really did appreciate the opportunity,” Willis said. “The Father’s Day Brunch really piqued my interest seeing that my nonprofit is geared on dads. I really wanted to take advantage of the opportunity and show appreciation for it.” 

Tickets can be purchased for individual day events or the entire weekend and are available for purchase at Restoring Lives on Broadlawn and at Ray of Sunshine Sweets and Treats. Tickets will also be available at the door.