Chester celebrates Juneteenth

Reverend Eric Carr of St. Daniel’s Ray of Hope CDC stands with Carolyn Payne, who started the June 19 celebration in Chester more than a decade ago.

CHESTER — The city celebrated its 11th annual Juneteenth festival with a six-hour festival at Memorial Park on Saturday as joy and happiness erupted everywhere.

The festival started as a block party at the St. Daniel’s Ray of Hope CDC morphed into a major festival with 45 vendors, dozens of performers including headliner Force MDs and a 15-person committee overseeing the event.

In addition to St. Daniel’s Ray of Hope, other sponsors included the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Juanita Brook-Rice, Laborers Local 413, Chester Mentoring Group, Lisa Smith-Strother, Barbara Smith, Chester Community Charter School and the Foundation for Delaware County. The Philadelphia Union also participated in the celebration.

Rev. Eric Carr, senior pastor of CDC St. Daniel’s Ray of Hope and chairman of the CDC board of directors, said it was an honor and a privilege to have the celebration start small at his church and then grow. a big city. Party.

“Six hours of food, fun and dancing – there’s nothing quite like it,” Carr said. “And that’s a privilege for our CDC, which is called Ray of Hope because that’s what we’re engaged in — engaged in the community. I think with all the division going on, it’s a something that brings everyone together.

Juneteenth pays tribute to the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, General Gordon Granger led Union soldiers to Galveston, Texas to read an order declaring that all slaves were free.

Carr explained what it means for June 19 to be recognized as a national holiday.

“As black people we fought for everything and often you don’t get recognized or you have to fight harder,” he said. “So for it to be officially recognized as a national holiday, it means there are more people who will become aware of what Juneteenth is.

“To be recognized as a national holiday,” Carr added, “it’s almost a greater release for us that we’ve taken another step, another step that puts us there as equal and accepted. It really makes a difference.

Carr credited Carolyn Payne with founding the original Chester Celebration over a decade ago.

A member of St. Daniel’s, Payne said she was named outreach coordinator in 2011.

“I asked my pastor if we could do Juneteenth as community outreach,” she said. “And we’ve been doing it ever since.”

Chester Community Coalition was one of many vendors at the event.

For the past four years, the organization has worked with victims of gun violence and their loved ones throughout Delaware County. They have a group that meets every Thursday at Shiloh Baptist Church, 703 Central Ave., Chester.

“We offer individual therapy, stress management, group therapy,” said Edward Mack, clinical case manager. “We offer a range of things to help someone get back on their feet after an incident.”

Of the June 19 celebration, he said, “We’re just here in the community to spread the word, to let people know we’re here, we’re here to support them. It happens and it rages no matter where you live. People need support. »

Today at 10:30 a.m., UM Church of St. Daniel, located at 315 Edwards Street in Chester, will host a special June 19 worship service.

Additionally, Delaware County will host the county’s first Juneteenth Festival today from 1-5 p.m. at Rose Tree Park, 1671 N. Providence Road in Upper Providence, near Media.

Organized by the Delaware County Council, the Delaware County Veterans Memorial Association and Taylor Made Vets, it will feature live music, artistic performances from local schools, vendors and food and will include signature performances from Dell-P and children of Adam Band. Local students will also perform.

Announcing the celebration last week, Delaware County Council Speaker Dr. Monica Taylor also noted the June 19 flag raising at government complex facilities and Rose Tree Park that occurred for the first time in county history.

“Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States and it is important that our county recognizes and celebrates this day,” she said. “The roots of Juneteenth go back centuries, but the celebration, but the formal observance of the day is somewhat new and the council is extremely proud to officially recognize June 19 as Juneteenth in Delaware County.”

She also spoke about the significance of the Juneteenth flag raising at Rose Tree Park and the Government Center complex.

“As residents see it blowing in the wind, we hope it’s a reminder and a reflection of what we’ve struggled for and what we’ve achieved as a nation,” Taylor said. “It also reminds us of the work that remains to be done. June 19 serves as a day for residents to celebrate the end of slavery in the United States and an opportunity for our entire community to learn more about Afro history. American, which will contribute to a deeper understanding of the experiences that have shaped African Americans and our country.

Comments are closed.