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Dunbar Heights Community Group to host Juneteenth parade on June 20

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
Shawnee Juneteenth Celebration
Shawnee Juneteenth Celebration 2019

The Dunbar Community Group is hosting the Juneteenth Celebration Saturday, June 20 beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Santa Fe Depot located at 614 E. Main Street. 

According to Timmy Young, Interim Director of the Dunbar Community Group, everyone will meet at Santa Fe Depot at 8:30 a.m., then begin the parade at 9 a.m. and walk to the Shawnee Community Center at 804 S. Park Street.

Following the parade, Young said there will be a prayer service led by the Rev. Daryl Fields of Union Missionary Baptist Church. After the prayer service, Young said there will be speakers and entertainment beginning at 11:15 a.m.

"We'll have people from all races that will be with us and this is open to the public and this is not something that is designated for any segregated group whatsoever," Young said. 

Young explained all are welcome to attend the event and people are encouraged to wear masks, practice social distancing and maintain ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

"We understand the importance of social distancing, but we believe strongly that we need to celebrate our holiday and that's the reason we're going forward with it," Young said. "We're being very cautious with it and encourage people to follow CDC guidelines." 

Young said the celebration of Juneteenth has long been a tradition in Shawnee as many gather each year to recognize the importance of June 19, 1865. 

Young said Juneteenth marks the day when thousands of slaves in the southern parts of the United States, including Oklahoma, were finally made aware of the end of slavery. 

"(On) Fourth of July in 1776 freedom came for America," Young said. "America never had any intention to include slaves as part of the country. So we celebrate our freedom when we were freed from slavery and that information didn't reach the southwest part of the United States until June 19, 1865 and that's our day of freedom in this area." 

Young said in 2021, Dunbar Heights and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation will host another Juneteenth celebration the second week of June at the FireLake Arena.