Engage in important history, education at Juneteenth events

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Wayne’s third annual Juneteenth celebration, themed Music for the Soul, takes place Friday through Sunday, June 17-19, with a variety of fun and educational activities for everyone to enjoy. 

On Friday, starting at 7 p.m., the weekend begins with a showing of “How it Feels to be Free,” at the Wayne State College Planetarium. This documentary showcases the experiences of black female artists who changed American culture through their art and advocacy.  

After the movie, participants can engage in a discussion about the film and the themes found within it. The planetarium will also have a light show following the showing, depicting the night sky in Africa accompanied by music. 

On June 18, the movie “Summer of Soul” will play in the Planetarium from 1 to 3 p.m. This documentary holds tremendous significance not only for Black history, but also for this year’s theme of music.  

The film depicts the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival where numerous attendees and performers, such as Stevie Wonder and Mahalia Jackson, celebrated Black culture and music. This event, though large and occurring during the same year as Woodstock, has been forgotten by popular media.  

Footage from the festival, condensed into two one-hour TV specials broadcast in 1969, was found and released in this documentary in 2021, after sitting in a basement for around 50 years.  

The documentary garnered an abundance of praise and awards including “Best Documentary Feature,” “Best Music Film,” “Grand Jury Prize” and more.  

“We specifically chose this film to display because of its recency, with it just coming out in 2021, and its proximity to our theme,” organizer Endia Casey-Agoumba said.  

Sunday, June 19, brings the main event of the weekend festivities, starting with a 2.5-mile walk at 3 p.m.  

From 5 to 7 p.m. at Bressler Park, the group will host games, music and food from Joe's BBQ Food Truck coming from Norfolk. Since this celebration lands on Father’s Day, many of the activities will have a Father’s Day theme.  

Participants can win prizes in games such as “Bad Dad Joke Battle,” “Black Music Trivia” and “My Dad Would Rather,” where kids and their dads will answer a series of questions and try to get them to match up.  

Juneteenth first became recognized as a national holiday in 2021, but the date has held significance for centuries, Agoumba explained. On Jan. 1, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring slavery illegal in all states.  

However, not every city freed its slaves immediately. Specifically in Galveston, Texas, this feat took two years. Finally obtaining their freedom on June 19, 1865, this group of people held a massive celebration to commemorate the actual end to slavery’s reign of terror.  

Through this celebration in Wayne, Agoumba and the other organizers hope to bring education and shared feelings of community to the town. 

“Though we are in a small, not very diverse town, we are all Americans,” Agoumba said. “We should all celebrate the great points in our history and remember the shadows.” 

Since its first installment three years ago, Wayne’s Juneteenth festival has expanded greatly. As area residents become more educated, interest and passion for the event has tripled. In the future, Agoumba wishes to see the event as a staple in the community, bringing in people from Norfolk and other surrounding towns.  

For more information about the event or to get involved, visit Wayne, Nebraska Juneteenth on Facebook.

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