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NAACP's Juneteenth Celebration to Be Held in Murrieta

The annual, NAACP-sponsored event that celebrates emancipation from slavery, is set for June 16 at Murrieta's Town Square Park.

The annual Juneteenth celebration hosted by the NAACP Lake Elsinore/Southwest Riverside County chapter is moving to Murrieta this year.

The event, which symbolizes the emancipation from slavery for people of color, had traditionally been held in Lake Elsinore. The city made history by seating the state's first African American mayor, Thomas R. Yarborough, who was elected to the City Council in 1948 and took over the mayorship in 1964. is named after him, and in previous years the Juneteenth event has been held at the location.

But Mary Venerable, president of the local NAACP branch #1034, said Murrieta is a more central location for the celebration.

"We've had good support from the city of Murrieta," Venerable told Patch.

The celebration is scheduled to take place from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. June 16 at 41717 Juniper Street.

The local Juneteenth celebration is in its eighth year and Venerable said she hopes to attract more than the 100 or so that attended

"We've got great expectations," Venerable said. "I think it's an opportunity to get into the community...make people aware of us."

Branch #1034 serves the communities of Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Norco, Wildomar and Menifee, and has 134 members, she said.

Venerable added that teaching younger generations about the meaning of Juneteenth is also important. To that end, brochures explaining the history behind the event will be available.

Although President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves during the Civil War—also known as the War Between the States—it was not until June 19, 1865 that slaves were told en masse that they were free, according to historians.

That day became known as Juneteenth and, although it is not always celebrated on the 19th of the month, it is always celebrated near that date.

It is an unofficial holiday— the only state to officially recognize it is the state of Texas, where the 1865 announcement of emancipation was made in Galveston —but many cities hold big block parties to celebrate it.

According to the Rev. Ronald V. Meyers, chairman of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, the day is "a time of celebration, but also a time of reflection, healing, and hopefully a time for the country to come together and deal with its slave legacy."

Meyers has worked to get Juneteenth recognized by state legislatures.

Currently, a little more than half of U.S. states acknowledge Juneteenth in some form or other, usually on the third Saturday of June.

This year's event in Murrieta is free to the public and there will be local vendors and entertainment.

For more information and for vendors interested in selling their wares at the event, contact:

Gwen Jones - 951-830-6971; or

Mary Venerable - 951-443-4551; or

Sydney and Darryl - 678-993-9315 / 909-232-0190

To register for a vending opportunity, click here.

The deadline for application and fees is June 11.

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