Evanston commemorates Juneteenth with parade, celebration


Nicole Markus/Daily Senior Staffer

This is Evanston’s fourth annual Juneteenth event.

Nicole Markus, Summer Editor in Chief

Evanston residents gathered Saturday for the city’s fourth annual Juneteenth celebration. The city observed the holiday with a parade, kicking off at Robert Crown Community Center, that led into a day-long celebration at Ingraham Park.

The national holiday commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black people. Although Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, it wasn’t until 1865 that the last group of enslaved Texans were notified of their freedom. President Joe Biden officially declared Juneteenth — typically celebrated June 19 — a national holiday in 2021, but celebrations have gone on in the U.S. since the 1800s.

In Evanston, residents marched in a parade, which featured the South Shore Drill Team and the Jesse White Tumblers as well as floats, walking groups and marching bands.

The following celebration featured artists, food vendors and live performers for Evanston residents to enjoy. At Ingraham Park, residents also had the chance to watch a free, outdoor version of the musical “1619: The Journey of a People,” which takes audiences through the history of slavery and how it impacts modern life.

SESP Prof. Cheryl Judice, Ph.D., who owns Hecky’s Barbecue, said she wanted her restaurant to participate in the event to honor her late husband, Hecky Powell.

“This was my husband’s favorite holiday,” Judice said. “He felt it was extremely important for African Americans to recognize this holiday because this was the day in history when all slaves in the country were finally free.”

At the event, Hecky’s sold its signature Juneteenth Strawberry soda. According to Judice, red foods are part of traditional Juneteenth celebrations.

Judice said it was important for Evanston to recognize and celebrate the national holiday.

“We are always pushing the envelope on things that have to do with equity and justice,” Judice said. “We celebrate everybody.”

Evanston resident Pandora Brown said she enjoyed the day, calling it “peaceful.” The event, according to Brown, was more organized this year than it has been in the past.

Like Judice, Brown said it was important for the city to commemorate the holiday “for unity.”

“It’s an integrated city, but (I appreciate) more unity in our community,” Brown said. “I think it’s a great thing.”

Along with the various vendors, several community organizing groups were also present at the celebration.

Trisha Connolly, a board member of the Community Alliance for Better Government, said it was important for the organization to be present at the event to do outreach in the community.

Although Evanston is known for its progressive policies, Conolly said the city still has a lot of work to do in the future.

“We want to put the magnifying glass on things and really scrutinize it,” Connolly said. “We want to make Evanston better for everyone.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @nicolejmarkus

Related Stories:
— Local restaurants, artists and residents celebrate Juneteenth with parade, live music
— Northwestern honors the legacy of Black Chicago in Juneteenth event
— Northwestern will recognize Juneteenth as a University holiday