Kemone Hendricks partners with local businesses to celebrate Juneteenth


Courtesy Dear Evanston

Kemone Hendricks, the organizer of Evanston’s Juneteenth celebration, is gearing up for the event Friday with pop-up stores outside black-owned businesses.

Jack Austin, Reporter

In the lead-up to the city’s virtual Juneteenth celebration, organizer Kemone Hendricks hosted pop-up shops outside black-owned businesses to raise funds for the event.

Hendricks, the founder of Evanston Present and Future, planned for a Juneteenth parade, but due to concern over the coronavirus, they will have a virtual celebration and parade. Residents can stream the event on June 19 on the event’s webpage. Hendricks expects about a thousand people to attend.

“I think (the celebration) will open the eyes of a lot of white people (and) a lot of institutions,” Hendricks said. “That’s why it is so important for it to be celebrated on a big scale.”

Bon Events, a local event planning company, has worked with nonprofits to support the Juneteenth virtual celebration.

Bon Events co-owner Jennifer Friedrich, who is white, said she sees the event as an opportunity to educate herself and uplift black voices. Friedrich also said Juneteenth is rarely taught in classrooms.

On Friday, June 12, the pop-up fundraised outside Jamaican restaurant Good To Go. On Sunday, Hendricks held the pop-up outside Hecky’s Barbecue, which was owned by the late Hecky Powell. At the pop-up stores, residents could write a tribute to Powell, which will be shared at the event.

On Saturday, June 13, Young, Black & Lit, a local non-profit literacy group, handed out free books outside black-owned frozen yogurt shop YoFresh Yogurt Cafe. YoFresh has also allowed Young, Black & Lit to set up a temporary bookstore inside the shop in the lead-up to the celebration.

Krenice Roseman, Young, Black & Lit co-founder, said when black children are exposed to black characters, they are more likely to have a higher self-esteem.

“There has been research that shows that when children see themselves reflected in the books they read and their communities reflected they learn to value themselves and their community,” Roseman said. “We look hard to find books that affirm the experiences of black children.”

Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, which specializes in African American and African Diaspora storytelling, will be producing a pre-recorded reading of the play “Day of Absence.” A live Q&A will precede the reading at 6 p.m. on June 20. Members of the Evanston community are pairing up with professional actors to put on the reading.

“Day of Absence,” a satirical play revolving around an imaginary Southern town where all the black people disappear for a day, is being directed by Tim Rhoze. Originally written by Douglas Turner Ward in 1965, Rhoze said he believes that the play is just as relevant today.

Hendricks said the goal of her virtual Juneteenth celebration is to raise awareness in Evanston of the holiday so that people mark it on their calendar each year. June 19 was the date that slaves in Galveston, Texas learned of their freedom, 10 days after the end of the Civil War, and two-and-a-half years since the Emancipation Proclamation.

“No one is free unless we are all free,” Hendricks said. “It signifies what America really is, freedom delayed.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @JackAustin10

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