COLUMBUS (WCMH) – There’s a lot to celebrate and much work left to be done in Columbus, which is why this Juneteenth, many organizations and community leaders took advantage of this day to get some of that work done.
Organizers said for both this Juneteenth and Father’s Day weekend, they want the focus to be on putting down the guns and preventing violence in Columbus for 24 hours, but it takes the entire community to accomplish this.
For many, Saturday marked the first time in more than a year and a half to take part in music, food, culture, and a chance for more opportunities.
“There’s always something you can do to take part of a change,” said Markayla Prince, a 13-year-old volunteer.
Change was definitely the focus Saturday. For Malcolm White’s Father’s Day celebration, organizers had one bigger mission.
“We know that when fathers get involved in their kid’s lives, they have better lives,” said Fatherhood Initiative Program Manager Malcolm White. “They don’t drop out of high school, they avoid teenage pregnancy, they go to college. They have good, sustainable jobs.”
For Jevon Collins at the King Arts Complex Saturday, the message was to recognize a new federal holiday: Juneteenth.
“It was June 19th, 1865,” Collins said. “That was actually two years after President Lincoln had freed the slaves. In Texas, they didn’t know about it. It was the day that the last of our ancestors were given their freedom, so we commemorate that.”
While many organizations came together for specific reason, all could agree that the day was all about community and a needed focus in a year where many teens are involved in gun violence.
“We don’t want no gunfire at all,” said We Are Linden’s Ralph Carter. “We want to put these guns down and pick up love. That should be the message for the entire weekend. Stop this violence. Stop this madness.”
Everyone also mentioned that they hope the resources made available at Saturday’s events will encourage others to become more involved and be part of the needed change.
“If you put your positive energy in the right place, you can be an overcomer, you can be an achiever, and you can live your best life,” Carter said.
Organizers said that while they are calling for a 24-hour ceasefire for the day, they hope others will continue the effort.