By T. Scott Boatright
The city of Grambling will hold nine days of celebration during its 2023 Juneteenth festivities from Sunday through June 19.
Juneteenth commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth (short for “June 19th”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people were freed.
This year’s Juneteenth features more events in the city of Grambling since the COVID pandemic prevented any activities in the summer of 2020 and will begin at 6 p.m. Sunday with a Gospel concert at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, located at 2588 La. Hwy. 150 (Old Grambling Road).
“This concert will consist of local artists who will gather together and have a church concert,” said Grambling Juneteenth Committee Secretary Deidre Dunbar.
Grambling’s 2023 Juneteenth Opening Ceremony is set for 9 a.m. Monday at Grambling City Hall, located at 127 King St.
This year’s festivities will see a return of “Conversation Under the Tent,” an old staple of Grambling’s Juneteen celebration, from 6 – 8 p.m. Tuesday at Grambling City Hall.
“We’re renaming that the ‘Thelma S. Williams Conversations Under the Tent’ in honor of Ms. Williams and we’re going to talk about the history of The Village and the history of Grambling,” said event organizer Barbara McIntyre. “We’ll have a roundtable discussion inviting people to talk about what Grambling was like back in the day when Grambling was self-sufficient with our own businesses.
“We want young people to know our history and want to do it while those of us who lived it still remember it. But we’re not just going to make it about the past only. We want to give young people the opportunity to talk about their vision and what they would like to see in Grambling. We want it to be about how we used to function and how we will again – how we can reconstruct The Village and things like that.”
The city’s annual Juneteenth Bake-Off is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday and will be followed at 7 p.m. that night with a citywide Bible Study held at 7 p.m. at Christ Temple Church.
“It’ll be a little different this year – we’ll have an adult category and a children’s category,” Dunbar said. “So anything they want to make and bring in, that is a great way to get children to participate.
“And from the adults we’re hoping to see some of those old recipes,” Dunbar said. “That’s what I want to see. And some people will be selling some of their foods after the cookoff.”
From 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Thursday, a Health Fair will be held at City Hall followed by a citywide Exercise Program at 6:30 p.m. at the Grambling City Park behind the Police Station.
A Juneteenth Genealogy Workshop is set for 10 a.m. noon on June 16 at Lincoln Preparatory School, located at 1453 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. (Old Grambling Road).
“People should bring in their laptops and their phones and we’ll have someone to help us and show us how to research our families, family histories and bloodlines,” Dunbar said. “And that goes right along with this year’s celebration theme – To Celebrate, Communicate and Educate.”
The 2023 Miss Juneteenth pageant will be held from 7 – 9 p.m. that night at T.H. Harris Auditorium on the Grambling State University campus.
A day full of festivities is set for June 18 beginning with an 8:30 a.m. Wellness Walk before a Health Vendors program is held at 10 a.m.
Also that day, starting at 10 a.m. a Juneteenth parade will roll through “The Village,” a car show will be held.starting at 10:30 a.m. following the parade.
That Saturday will also feature vendors and a “Kidsz Zone” with youth vendors.
“If kids want to bring out a lemonade stand, bracelets they’ve made and basic things like that, this will be their opportunity to get out and start a business,” Dunbar said.
A Juneteenth Poetry Reading is set for 2 p.m. June 18 at City Hall and will be followed by a Juneteenth Fathers Day Gala from 7 – 11 p.m. in the Black and Gold Room of GSU’s Favrot Student Union.
Juneteenth Gala tickets and T-shirts are available from Juneteenth Committee members for $12 and will be sold at events for $15.
Grambling’s Juneteenth celebration will wrap up on June 19 with a Family Day that will feature a Youth Scholarship Kickball Game from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at City Park.
This year’s Grambling Juneteenth celebration will also feature a “Most Beautiful Yard” contest where the Juneteenth Committee will drive to any yard that the homeowner asks to be entered and they’ll have a sign placed in their yard through the month of June and will receive two free Grambling Juneteenth T-shirts.
Anyone wanting to enter the Most Beautiful Yard contest can text 318-957-1390 or 318-514-8855.