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Community activists highlight Juneteenth celebration and call for greater involvement


A gathering was held in Douglass Park on Saturday to celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday symbolizing the liberation and ongoing journey toward equality and justice for African Americans in the U.S.

Donna Clayborne, a community activist, played a crucial role in the celebration.

"I believe you cannot figure out where you're going if you don't remember where you came from. The struggle has been real, and it's still a struggle today. We've come a long way, but we still have a long way to go," said Clayborn.

Clayborne acknowledged the contributions of Session Souls, Love Columbia, Calvary Church, Mid-Missouri Legal Services, Memorial Park Cemetery, Noble Spirits, and others in making the event possible.

The City of Columbia received nearly $40,000 from the Missouri Department of Tourism to fund Juneteenth celebrations. Despite the city's financial efforts, Clayborne feels more could have been done.

"I think the city could have been more involved with the celebration besides just providing the money," she said. "To celebrate something, you have to truly feel it in your heart to make the celebration real."

The event was primarily attended by African-Americans. Ann Dieterle from Calvary Church mentioned that despite several announcements about the event, there was still a small turnout from church members.

"I wish I were surprised. We [Caucasians] don't often enter predominantly non-white spaces," Dieterle said. As a white woman, she believes black history is everyone's history.

"Since 2020, I've realized how little I know and how much has been shielded from me in life," Dieterle admitted. She expressed that the aspiration to learn more about African-American history is not common among her peers, attributing the lack of support to fear and complacency.

"I'll speak for myself because I don't know how many people this represents. I think there is a degree of fear," she said. "I don't know if it's a lack of desire to explore outside our comfort zone, but it's just easier not to."

Tasha Fisher, a visitor at the celebration, agreed with Dieterle's belief that fear contributes to the lack of support.

"I can understand her concern because some black people don't come out due to fear. Unfortunately, events like this can sometimes attract people who are not about unity, and there can be violence," Fisher said. "You never want to bring your family to an event where you might have to be fearful. So I think it's a message to the black community to be welcoming, safe, and invite everyone in with love."

Regarding important black history sites in the community, such as the Henry Kirkland property and McKinley building, Clayborne emphasized the need for public surveys to be properly distributed within the black community.

"If you're gonna do something for the black community, get out and talk to the black community and see what they want to do. Don't talk to your token blacks. Talk to the black community. That way, you find out what the black community wants to do," said Clayborne.

The following with be the upcoming Juneteenth events:

  • Let Freedom Ring" Gospel Celebration and Minority Vendor Show Expo
  • JUNE 19, 2024 – 2:00 – 8:00 P.M., EXPO – 6:00 P.M., GOSPEL – URBAN EMPOWERMENT – 2404 INDUSTRIAL DRIVE
  • CoMo Juneteenth Community Luncheon
  • JUNE 19, 2024 – 10:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M. – DOUGLASS PARK – 400 NORTH PROVIDENCE
  • Columbia's 5th Annual Juneteenth Event by The Village
  • JUNE 19, 2024 – 12:00 – 7:00 P.M. – COSMO PARK – 1615 BUSINESS LOOP 70 WEST
  • Powerhouse Annual Juneteenth Event
  • JUNE 19, 2024 – 12:00 – 5:00 P.M. – COSMO PARK – 1615 BUSINESS LOOP 70 WEST
  • Juneteenth Jamboree Family Fun Fest
  • JUNE 20, 2024 – 6:00 – 8:00 P.M. – COSMO PARK – 1615 BUSINESS LOOP 70 WEST
Article Topic Follows: Local News

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Euphenie Andre

Outside of my reporting duties, I’m a Division 1 track star at the University of Missouri specializing in the triple jump. My achievements include earning a spot on two national teams, proudly representing the United States at both the NACAC U23 and Pan-American Games. While my ultimate goal is to become a sports reporter, I’m currently enjoying my role in local news for Mid-Missouri.


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