The following information was provided by Wingate University.
“A Celebration of the Arts, Education and Black Excellence: Learning Through Unity” will be the theme of Indian Trail’s first Juneteenth Celebration, slated for June 17 from 6-9 p.m. at Crossing Paths Park (120 Blythe Drive). The event is being held in collaboration with Unity House, Wingate University’s Multicultural Center.
“We couldn’t be more excited about working with Indian Trail to kick off this event, which will offer something for everyone,” said Dr. Antonio Jefferson, Wingate’s assistant vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion. “It’s also worth noting that ours will be the first of at least three Juneteenth celebrations across the county: Monroe will have one on June 18 and Marshville on June 19. So, local residents could feasibly attend all three.”
The Indian Trail event will include:
- Professional Poets and Spoken Word Performances
- Community Panel Discussion
- African Dance & Drumming
- Local DJ
- Food Trucks
- Arts & Crafts
- Bounce House for kids
April Smith, Wingate University’s assistant vice president for community standards, and Hayden Kramer, director of Indian Trail Parks & Recreation, are helping to put the celebration together.
“The Town of Indian Trail is excited to host this event. Being able to collaborate with Wingate University is an honor and a partnership we look forward to growing,” Kramer said.
Smith said she has been involved with Juneteenth celebrations since she was a child growing up in Arkansas.
“It is a celebration that is essential for remembering the historical history of how enslaved African Americans were notified that they are no longer bound by physical chains, but also a sense of mental chain release,” Smith says. “This day affirms how far people have come, but also how far we must continue to push and hope for a more equitable future.”
Smith said the more that members of the University community and the surrounding area know about the history and meaning behind the Juneteenth celebration, the more they can understand the importance of diversifying needs and being inclusive of differences.
“This awareness brings forth curiosity which allows us to sit at a table and listen to each other's perspectives through a lens that is different from our own. This type of diversity allows equitable growth,” she added.
Dedrick Russell, talent acquisition specialist for Gray TV, will serve as moderator for the Juneteenth panel discussion, which will feature Candice Sturdivant, Wingate’s assistant director of career services.
Prior to the June 17 event, organizers are calling on local residents to enter their county-wide Juneteenth Poem and Spoken Word submission contest. Anyone from ages 5 to 85 may submit a poem or spoken word piece that captures the essence of Juneteenth. A number of the entries will be chosen as winners and their authors will have a chance to perform their pieces on stage.