Pittsburgh celebrates June 10 with three days of free events open to the public in honor of the federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of black enslaved people at the end of the Civil War. Hosted by Stop the Violence Pittsburgh, the Western Pennsylvania June Homecoming Celebration began Friday and continues through Sunday with local and national black vendors, a parade, food, music, art and more.
“First, I want people to know that this holiday is dedicated to black people, but it is for everyone,” says William Marshall, founder and organizer of Stop the Violence. “There were many tragedies. Killing black people and losing two family members is too much. That’s why we have this event. We want to bring communities together.”
Participating sellers told Pittsburgh City Paper on Friday that they appreciate the business the event brings, but said they also look forward to networking.
Michelle Moses, co-owner Sherry Family Markett, a black-owned store in East Pittsburgh that specializes in soul food, says she wants to make a difference in her community.
“This restaurant is named after my mother, and it was thanks to her that my family started their business. She worked three jobs to take care of us and we wanted to give her the opportunity to retire,” says Moses. “We provide food, but we really love to give back to the community with toy rides, school trips and community events. We want black people to know they don’t have to live check to check.”
As Sherry’s family market fills their bellies, the June vendor The Social Butterfly Experience fills the mind. The local business, led by owner Aizhalon Brown, aims to “educate people about mental health and the importance of positive well-being, and support anyone who suffers from mental health issues,” its website says.
“I have been going to therapy for many years. I was able to realize that I did not feel anything, although people thought that I had everything, ”says Brown. urban paper. “I want African Americans to know that there are resources and other people like you.”
Gray Teddy Co.a grooming company dedicated to helping men “get their hearts, minds, and beards in order” traveled to town from Indiana, Pennsylvania for the event.
“We’ve been told for a long time that men should be the breadwinners and pillars of their community,” says Donovan Daniel, co-owner of Grizzled Teddy Co. “But how can you protect and care for someone if you don’t take care of yourself?”
On Saturday, more than 2,000 people gathered for the June parade from Liberty Corner in the Hill District to festivities at Point State Park. The parade served as a re-enactment of the 1870 Free Men’s Great Jubilee Parade in Pittsburgh and the 1914 Women’s Parade, which included Cease Fire PA, Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers, as well as a large number of local black organizations.
Fro Bang Foundation, a South Side nonprofit whose mission is to create a positive image for Pittsburgh’s black girls, was one of the groups in attendance. Fro Gang offers free black doll giveaways for girls in need, as well as youth mentoring programs, field trips, and more.
“Black girls need to be aware of their self-worth and see beauty when they look in the mirror,” says Kelly Shakur, founder of Fro Gang. “The goal is to let black girls know they can love their hair and be uncompromisingly black, period.”
Delta Sigma Theta the sorority waved its banner in support of Juneteenth, hoping to draw attention to what they were doing for the community. The Pittsburgh chapter of the Black Alumni Sorority began at the University of Pittsburgh but now also serves the counties surrounding Pittsburgh. They have the opportunity to receive scholarships and participate in youth programs for African-American communities in Pittsburgh, with a special focus on black girls.
“There is a lot of violence and a lot of shortcomings,” says Anita Walker, president of Delta Sigma Theta. “There’s a study that says black women don’t thrive in Pittsburgh, and we’re here to change that.”
Delta Sigma Theta member Vail Njie adds that their goal is to both support the community and introduce them to new features. “Schools today still give the impression that it’s either college or bust,” says Nzhi. “Meanwhile, there are opportunities for trade and business. June is a celebration of a historic moment, but also a move forward.”
June activities will continue on Sunday. Marshall hopes that people will take away something worth thinking about from this event.
“We have to make sure we understand that we are the backbone of American society,” Marshall says. “Unity, solidarity and respect for oneself and other cultures is a step in the right direction.”
June WPA Homecoming Celebration. Continues until Sunday, June 19th. Point State Park, downtown. Free. wpajuneteenth.com