Juneteenth holiday brings celebrations to West Oahu

On June 19. 1865, U.S. troops freed the last remaining slaves in Galveston Texas two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
Published: Jun. 18, 2022 at 5:33 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 18, 2022 at 6:01 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Sunday marks the Juneteenth holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S.

On June 19, 1865, U.S. troops freed the last remaining enslaved people in Galveston Texas two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

African American and Black communities across the country are planning celebrations this weekend, and in Honolulu, organizers are taking the party to West Oahu.

“We begin Juneteenth by acknowledging our ancestors who did not have that opportunity to celebrate,” said Akiemi Glenn, Executive Director of Popolo Project. “We wear white, a color to honor our ancestors and we create a collaborative altar space that involves images and flowers and people come and share.”

Community groups Popolo Project and Black Bazaar HNL are holding a Juneteenth party at Kahumana Organic Farms in Waianaie on Sunday, a setting reminiscient of early celebrations.

“It actually reminds me of those kind of safe feelings of of going to someone’s property or going to a farm,” Glenn said.

“What we do is connect people of the African diaspora that are here in the Pacific,” said Amy Benson, Founder and Creative Director of Black Bazaar HNL. “We want to continue to educate, connect, celebrate and commemorate.”

The event will begin with morning protocol at 9 a.m., followed by a community cookout at noon with performances, vendors, and keiki activities.

“Our mission is to take care of the most vulnerable people in our society in a healthy and inclusive way,” said Christian Zuckerman, Manager of Kahumana Organic Farm. “Our mission as a nonprofit, and the idea of Juneteenth, they’re very in line with each other.”

“Juneteenth is a celebration of the end of war. You know, the end of this really violent conflict that defined a lot of American life, but also a moment of reassessing the possibilities for our community,” Glenn said.

Since Juneteenth became a federal holiday last year, it’s raised the visibility for Black communities in Hawaii, who also struggle with discrimination.

“We are almost 4% of the total population after being 2% for the last 150 years here. So it’s a small number of people. But our impact on Hawaii and our influence culturally, in every sector that we’re a part of is growing.”

Organizers say the holiday is about celebrating and sharing joy, not rallying for a cause.

“Even if your ancestors weren’t enslaved, you can be happy and celebrate that my ancestors are free and it’s a way of us reaffirming our humanity,” Glenn said.

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