By Abbey Crank
For the Opelika Observer
Janataka Hughley-Holmes had a vision last year after the murder of George Floyd: a Juneteenth celebration as one community.
This year, that vision continues. Friday, June 18, the Opelika Community will present the Juneteenth Festival: Unity in the Community. The event will take place in the Courthouse Square from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
“Juneteenth is the commemoration and celebration of when the slaves were free,” Holmes said. “It was a big jubilee … Imagine being set free.”
The event will kick off with opening statements from both Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller and Opelika Police Chief Shane Healey. Depending on time, members of the city council may say a few words.
Holmes said she thinks the best way for Opelika to fight systemic racism is by including the Opelika Police Department.
“What better way to get recognition out for what you want than for the people to be included that you’re trying to reach,” Holmes said.
At 6 p.m., a march against racial injustice will start at Opelika City Hall and finish in the Courthouse Square.
With Derek Chauvin’s official sentencing taking place June 25, Holmes explained how important this march is for everyone.
“We have come to this realization as a community that we’re not going to stand for racism,” Holmes said. “We are going to do this as a team.”
The event will feature vendors, drinks and a live DJ. Holmes urged everybody to come out and celebrate, not just the Black community.
Social distancing and COVID precautions will take place based on individual comfort level. Masks will be available upon request.
“Last year, the atmosphere was so great,” Holmes said. “I’m just excited.”
For more information regarding the Juneteenth event, contact Janataka Holmes at 334-559-5183 or Henrietta Snipes at firstname.lastname@example.org.