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Juneteenth parade in Shawnee canceled due to spike in COVID-19 cases

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star

The Dunbar Community Group has canceled the Juneteenth Celebration Saturday, originally scheduled for June 20 at Santa Fe Depot.

According to Timmy Young, Interim Director of the Dunbar Community Group, the Dunbar Community Group has canceled the event due to the spiking number of COVID-19 cases.

Young said originally everyone would have meet at Santa Fe Depot at 8:30 a.m., then began the parade at 9 a.m. and walk to the Shawnee Community Center.

Following the parade, Young said a prayer service led by the Rev. Daryl Fields of Union Missionary Baptist Church was scheduled.

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 while the event is canceled, in 2021, Dunbar Heights and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation will host another Juneteenth celebration the second week of June at the FireLake Arena.