Groups celebrate Juneteenth with music, games in Forrest Park
BLOOMINGTON, Jun 17, 2012 (Menafn - The Pantagraph - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --This year's Juneteenth Celebration at Forrest Park focused on positive messages for youths.
"What they see is what they'll be," said Lonnie Lockhart, a member of 100 Black Men of Central Illinois. "We want to show them successful role models."
Lockhart was among those at the yearly festival, which draws hundreds to the park for food, games and music performances.
Lockhart manned a timed obstacle course that included hula hoops, jumping ropes and basketballs for dribbling. The goal was to promote physical fitness among youngsters, he said.
Tony Jones of Bloomington, one of the festival's organizers, said the yearly event also is "an opportunity for the community to get together and fellowship."
Juneteenth is celebrated in cities and towns across the nation as a way to mark June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation, which freed slaves in the Confederate territory, went into effect on Jan. 1, 1863. But enforcement of the proclamation spread slowly through the Southern territory.
Shyreeta Davis of Bloomington was among the music performers Saturday.
Davis is the founder of Daughters of Determination, a Bloomington-based group for girls ages 6 to 16, which aims to eliminate peer bullying, teen pregnancy, childhood obesity and depression.
Davis works with the girls, some of whom come from broken homes, to identify and focus on positives in their lives. Six of the girls performed a dance Saturday while Davis sang. The girls held signs with messages such as "love," "confidence" and "security."
"It's our duty to make sure that the people who are coming behind us know what they are reaching for," said Davis, 30. "Your situation doesn't have to be the end of you."
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