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Juneteenth celebration to be held in Ottumwa

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 10:25 PM CDT
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - June 19th, otherwise known as Juneteenth is a day celebrated by African Americans that acknowledges the ending of slavery in the united states.

Recently President Joe Biden signed into law that Juneteenth will now be federally recognized as a national holiday.

Through the same week, the American Gothic Performing Arts Festival will take place the committee decided to include the Juneteenth event in their program.

This will be Ottumwa’s first Juneteenth festival.

Members of the planning event share why this day being celebrated nationally is so important to them.

“When I was in high school you learn about black history one month and it’s not enough because there’s so much to our history and I learned a lot from planning this event. Things that I should have probably known being a 31-year-old black woman in America. I’m also shocked by what I did not know. So it’s important for me to learn so that I can teach others.”, says performing artist Raven Dockery.

William Toney, who is also a performing artist for the American Gothic Performing Arts Festival, says learning the past is necessary for the future.

" Although the past can be ugly sometimes in so many different instances, it’s important to still remember it so you can move forward in a different way.”

Author and Ottumwans for Racial Justice member, Rachelle Chase, says this is a holiday that should be celebrated by everyone.

“Black history is everyone’s history so it is a significant day but it’s not just for African Americans, this is a day everyone should be participating in and learning about. Come out and learn about Juneteenth, learn about the contributions African Americans have made, learn about the history behind Juneteenth and come and celebrate with us.”

This event is free admission and will include a word from Mayor Lazio, food, singing, book signings and face painting for children.

If you’re interested the event will be Saturday, June 19th from 2 pm to 7 pm outside the BridgeView Center.

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