West Philly Vies To Host Official Juneteenth Nation Celebration

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The Pennsylvania Juneteenth Initiative (PAJI) is behind the city’s Juneteenth Parade and Festival, which the organization hopes will one day become the official national celebration.

That’s why even before the start of this year’s festivities, PAJI is already thinking about next year.

“The Pennsylvania Juneteenth Initiative has three goals: to make Juneteenth a national holiday (we’re almost there!), To make Philadelphia the host of the official national celebration of Juneteenth, and to make West Philadelphia the center of the official celebration of Juneteenth.” said PAJI co-founder Helen Salahuddin.

Organizers of the Philadelphia Juneteenth Parade and Festival join city officials outside City Hall to raise the Black Liberation Flag. (Emma Lee / WHYY)

Last year, due to the pandemic, the parade was canceled in favor of COVID-19 testing facilities and voter registration campaigns. Although pandemic restrictions were recently lifted, it is too late to stage a parade. Instead, on Saturday there will be a walk along 52nd Street to Malcolm X Park, where vendors and shows will be staged.

As the present and future events of June 15 are planned, Salahuddin said the group must answer two questions: “For whom is it and does it work to free our people?” “

She said PAJI answered these questions by moving the event from downtown to West Philadelphia and using Juneteenth to promote black-owned businesses in the 52nd Street commercial corridor.

Kenney offered his own answer to one of these questions.

“This holiday is for all of us,” he said. “We all need to know this story and we all need to know the truth. When I was young – I’m 62 – my history lessons didn’t have the truth. He had a version of the truth, but he didn’t have the truth.

Wednesday’s ceremony was not the first time the Pan-African flag has been hoisted at City Hall specifically for June 17. A week earlier, the Juneteenth flag was hoisted by the Philadelphia Juneteenth Family, Inc., which organized downtown buildings to light up Juneteenth week (June 13-19) in red, green and black.



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