COVID nearly canceled Racine Juneteenth; vaccine clinic at festival

A big Juneteenth celebration was held Saturday, June 19 in Racine. It was a good time for all, celebrating the new federal holiday at the Dr. John Bryant Community Center.

"We are doing this because people used to be slaves, and we are letting them have a freedom day," said Takyrie Payne.

"The reason why I think it’s important is it’s basically where all us Black people come together and celebrate all our hard times," said La-Cedric Richardson.

There were plenty of fun activities for parents and children. The festival almost didn’t even happen because of restrictions on crowd sizes due to COVID-19.

Racine Juneteenth

"Thirty days before the event it was lifted," said Lesia Hill-Driver, director of the John Bryant Community Center, chair of the Juneteenth Day Committeee. "We thought if we are going to have our Fourth of July, we have to have Juneteenth."

Organizers saw a big turnout and beautiful weather. Hill-Driver was honored for her dedication in making this happen.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Juneteenth Day for 22 years and just keeping things alive," she said.

Along with all the activities, the event included a pop-up clinic for free COVID-19 vaccines.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine

"We are offering the Pfizer vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson," said Dr. Margaret Hennessey, Ascension All Saints. "We’re trying to bring the vaccine to people."

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Overall, it was a fun, safe day celebrating progress made and yet to be made for equality.

Racine Juneteenth

"We are celebrating freedom, and my favorite thing is the bouncy house and the shops," said Payne.