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Historic Greenwood District preparing for big Juneteenth celebration

Posted at 8:08 PM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 21:41:17-04

TULSA, Okla. — The community around the historic Greenwood District is preparing for one of their biggest Juneteenth celebrations yet.

This year's event, titled "I, too, am America: Juneteenth for Justice" will commemorate the history and resilience of Greenwood while raising awareness of the racial disparities and structural racism within the City of Tulsa.

This event comes after the original annual Juneteenth celebration was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns last month.

READ MORE: Tulsa's annual Juneteenth celebration postponed due to pandemic

But now, this Friday, Juneteenth event organizers are expecting around 10,000 people to visit Black Wall Street for the African American holiday which celebrates the end of slavery in the United States.

Activist Tyrance Billingsly said celebrating this year is more important than ever.

"This year, in light of everything that’s been going on and coming up on the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Race Massacre, Juneteenth is a celebration that not only celebrates that we were freed from slavery but also commemorates the resilience of our people," Billingsly said. "That is so powerful, and we need that sense of continuity and confidence right now."

Event organizers have lined up multiple local and national performance groups and speakers for the event that starts at 11 a.m. Reverend Al Sharpton is one of their featured speakers. His speech will be about the need for legitimate changes to the systemic oppression people of color face daily.

READ MORE: Rev. Al Sharpton to commemorate Juneteenth in Tulsa

Nehemiah Frank, the editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times, is one of nearly 30 organizers who are putting this event together in a matter of days.

“This years annual Juneteenth on Greenwood, the home of Black Wall Street, will be brightest spot in America," Frank said, “It’s extremely important to celebrate Juneteenth because of the racial tension that’s taking place in this country.”

Because these year's Juneteenth celebration will bigger than years before, organizers are making sure to keep people safe amid coronavirus concerns.

“We have 26,000 masks for everyone in attendance and everyone will receive their own hand sanitizer as well," Frank said. "We will have two entrances for people to come in and there will be masks and sanitizer for everyone and we will have people inside reminding visitors to social distance."

Organizers say the event is for everyone who wants to peacefully celebrate the holiday.

There will be a petting zoo, food and merchandise vendors, music, dancing and much more.

The free event starts Friday, June 19 at 11 a.m. in the field next to the Vernon AME Church.

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