Hundreds celebrate Juneteenth holiday in Tulare

Tulare county non-profit organization hosts second annual Juneteenth celebration in Zumwalt Park

TULARE –  While many are adjusting to the new Juneteenth holiday this year, hundreds of people turned out to celebrate at Zumwalt Park in Tulare for the second year in a row.

On Saturday, June 18 the New Life Ministries of Tulare County Nonprofit organized and hosted a celebration for the second annual event. Coordinator Grady Dodson reported almost 300 attendees in celebration for this event, a significant drop from the 2021 turnout of 400 to 450 people. Dodson attributed the decline in numbers to Father’s Day falling on Sunday, June 19.

Six months of planning and fundraising brought the locals of the Central Valley a wide variety of activities: games, prizes and dinner from Diezel’s BBQ, free to attendees. A drumming performance and local mental health and medical health professionals educated the audience. A television and vacation to Sedona, Arizona were also raffled off to lucky participants. 

The location of Tulare was significant to the Juneteenth event due to the Black population in Tulare. Additionally the choice of location came from the support received from Tulare City Council.

“It’s well noted locally amongst people who live here and know Visalia that we would love to do some things in Visalia, Porterville or wherever we go.” Dodson stated. “But Tulare has the strongest, most well attended Black cultural events.” 

Differences from this year’s event was a notable jump in multicultural attendance, with more Hispanic, Asian and white attendance. 

“I think people in the community are finally understanding that we are all in this together. A lot of things are indicative to different groups that are all American. The more that we respect that, the more we come together, we understand that we’ve all contributed to make this country great.”

The impact of this celebration on Black history in Tulare County is huge as it becomes more normalized, according to Dodson. 

“The significance I think of what black history has added to American history is just one excellence of resiliency. To go from being enslaved people which could be validated to [hate] white people, to now, Black Americans marry white Americans, have families, there’s mixing culture groups. It just speaks to the resilience that we are a forgiving group of people,” Dodson said.

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