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Juneteenth event celebrates freedom every day for all

Indiana Daily Student -

By Kevin Doran | IDS | June 28, 2009

“You feeling all right tonight?” asked Eric Love, the master of ceremonies.

“Yeah,” replied an audience member, “we’re free!”

On Friday, several organizations gathered at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center to celebrate the 11th Annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival, which celebrates freedom for all people.

The event began with different cultural organizations along with fraternities and sororities displaying information in the lobby.

Audrey T. McCluskey, director of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, opened the event by explaining why Juneteenth is being celebrated on the 26th this year instead of the traditional 19th.

“The calendar may not say it,” McCluskey said, “but it’s always Juneteenth because we celebrate freedom every day.”

Juneteenth is celebrated as “Emancipation Day” instead of the day the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863 because the news took the entire war to get to the black slaves in the farthest parts of the divided country.

“They didn’t have the Internet, so they didn’t get the news until 2 1/2 years later,” McCluskey said.

The event continued with a formal proclamation of Juneteenth as a city holiday from Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan.

He was not there himself, but Beverly Calender-Anderson, the director of Bloomington’s “Safe and Civil City Program,” read the proclamation in his stead.

Calender-Anderson also gave out four “Unsung Heroes” awards, which honor those in Bloomington who dedicated themselves to service.

The winners for the 2009 awards were Anthony Scott of the Hudson-Holland Scholars Program; Debra Vance, director of diversity and outreach for Ivy Tech Community College; local philanthropist T. Michael Ford; and school coach Joe Boddy.

All four had donations made to charities of their choice.

Following more performances by musical and dance groups and a reflection speech came the main event: the 2009 Juneteenth King and Queen Pageant.

It was hosted by last year’s winners.

The nine contestants had to all write an essay and answer questions on topics important to the black community like AIDS, education and community service, among others.

They also had to perform a talent portion that included spoken word, musical, and dance performances, including one tribute to the late Michael Jackson, a pop-culture as well as a black-culture icon.

The 2009 winners were students Derrin Slack and Leslie Nobles.

They both won a $500 grand prize in addition to the title.

Appeals were made by all the speakers to remember the long struggle that African Americans, as well as all people, have had to make for freedom.

Ghangis Carter, director of the Office of Recruitment and Retention, reminded the crowd that as long as one loves freedom, Juneteenth is “not a celebration for one people, but for all.”