A group of local organizations will host the second Juneteenth celebration in Española on June 18 and 19 on the Misión y Convento plaza.

    New Mexico National Juneteenth Observation Foundation State Director Willie Williams organized the first and this year’s Juneteenth celebration in Española. Williams said she was inspired to organize these events by a young woman who had reached out to Williams to inform her of the idea of a peace walk on Juneteenth in 2020.

    “When I came to them (city officials) last year, they were excited, they were happy, they wanted to be apart of it (Juneteenth celebration),” Williams said.

    The celebrate pays tribute to June 19, 1865 when enslaved people were found in Galveston, Texas, and declared to be free by General Order Number 3 nearly two-and-half years after the emancipation proclamation. Juneteenth was created to celebrate this event as the official end of slavery.

    Española’s Juneteenth celebrations starts will be from 5 to 8 p.m., June 18 with a social and kick-off celebration on the Plaza de Española Mision Museum and Education Center Art Exhibition. The events continue 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., June 19 with a flag raising and veterans appreciation luncheon, a peace and unity walk from Northern New Mexico College to Ranchitos Park, an arts festival, and a motorcycle bike run and fundraiser honoring Roland Garcia.

    Northern New Mexico College President Richard Bailey said Northern was the first college in New Mexico to host a flag raising event in honor of Juneteenth last year. This year, they plan to have a flag raising event again. However, this time there will also be a veteran appreciation luncheon.

    “Thanks to Ms. Willie, she is incorporating a Veteran’s appreciation luncheon in addition to that (flag raising),” Bailey said. “After the flag raising event which will be at 11, there will be an outdoor luncheon for those in attendance which will probably be around 12.”

    Williams said special guests from outside Española will be in attendance at some of the events.

    “We have out of town guests coming to be a part of our celebrations as well,” she said. “I invited them, they accepted. We have a special guest coming that Saturday for the flag raising, I’m quite sure you all will be amazed who it is but I’m not going to tell you

    Williams is confident in this year’s events being successful because of community involvement and the in person events.

    “This year it’s a bigger celebration,” she said. “It’s more involved because now we have state officials, elected officials, community leaders, just everybody. We’re using local vendors for our tables and the booths.

    “Because of the pandemic, I’m quite sure that people would love to get out, celebrate, and have a reason to celebrate,” Williams said. “We’ve been locked down for over a year. We need to see each other smile, welcome each other, and be nice to each other.”

    The event is hosted by the Foundation, Northern, Northern New Mexico Regional Art Center and the La Tierra Montessori Charter School of the Arts and Sciences.

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