Raleigh Juneteenth celebration attendees, participants acknowledge, discuss current struggles

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Monday, June 19, 2023
Juneteenth celebration participants acknowledge current struggles
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The purpose was to celebrate Juneteenth and call attention to the struggle and challenges that still need to be made within the Black community.

Hundreds of people filled Raleigh's Roberts Park Monday afternoon for the fifth annual Soul Food Juneteenth Celebration.

The purpose was to celebrate Juneteenth and call attention to the struggle and challenges that still need to be made within the Black community.

"My name is Natesia and a lot of times people pronounce my name wrong," said children's author Natesia Turner. So (my books) teaches kids to advocate for themselves and make people say their name correctly. That it's OK to have a different name."

Some of that, depending on who you ask, is attributable to unconscious bias and disproportionate practices.

According to a study by the American Psychological Association, 26 percent of Black students were suspended over minor infractions over the course of three years compared to just two percent of their white peers.

In real estate, a 2021 Freddie Mac study found 12.5 percent of properties in predominately Black areas received appraisal values lower than the contract price.

"When it comes down to the independence of being free, that happened," said attendee Cheley Douglass. "However, there's a lot of battles were still fighting that we need to come together as it comes to our rights, laws, and policies."

In some states, the Crown Act was enacted to prohibit employers from discriminating against an employee's hairstyle or texture.

"As long as we're trying to become knowledgeable about it and spread that knowledge and resource, then that's the thing I like the most," said organizer Emmanuel 'Poobie' Chapman.

For Turner, it's even been a struggle to find representation to place her book in stores.

"I've reached out to agents before, but I've gotten denied," Turner said. "So I have to do everything on my own. I have to self-publish. I have to market myself. So it's a lot harder for me to get over that barrier."

And some of that barrier, according to Chapman, is to get all municipalities and employers to embrace and recognize the Juneteenth holiday.

"In the future I don't want to fold into having it on the weekend because then we'll never see any change to it. I want it to be on Juneteenth because July 4th is on July 4th," said Chapman. "The celebration for July 4th isn't on July 2nd. So I just want to control that narrative and do what I can to kind of make this thing a thing."

The Soul Food Juneteenth Celebration featured a deejay, basketball games, a Spades tournament, food trucks, vendors, and fun for the entire family.

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