HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — With the recent signing of legislation, both in Pa. and nationally, many Midstate organizations are bringing awareness to the day slaves in Texas found out the war was over and they were free. In Harrisburg, it’ll be two days of festivities.
The Young Professionals of Color of Greater Harrisburg (YPOC HBG) strive to create a community for black and brown professionalism and to be an empowering source for the community. This year, the group is hosting a slew of celebrations throughout the city to show why the event is important, and why this is a step forward in the long road to equity.
“It’s important that it’s recognized because it signifies an 85-year-old slow walk toward total emancipation and abolition of slavery,” YPOC HBG’s Vice President Dr. Kimeka Campbell said. “When Pennsylvania abolished slavery in 1780, it was a partial abolition, and enslaved people trying to escape from slave states were not free. So it was definitely a slow walk towards total abolition.”
YPOC’s 4th annual Juneteenth Celebration starts on Friday with a Restaurant Crawl in Downtown Harrisburg. It’ll start with a gathering at Ad Lib Kitchen and Craft Bar, and kick off at 7 p.m., designed to showcase the city’s restaurant scene and solve clues for a cash prize.
“We are really excited about our first restaurant crawl, showcasing diverse businesses and businesses that support diversity in the community,” Dr. Campbell said.
On Saturday, June 19, YPOC HBG will host a Discovery Walk, starting at noon. This walk through Midtown will bring visitors through a journey of hearing stories from prominent Black business owners.
“We have partnered with the Bridge and La Cultura, and we have also curated a videozine that showcases many of the other events happening in the city,” Dr. Campbell said.
The weekend will close out after the Discovery Walk with a cookout at Hurston Manor, which will be free.
While YPOC is proud and excited to bring awareness to Juneteenth, there is room for concern over the creation of a federal holiday.
“Holidays like Juneteenth tend to be coopted and commodified by the dominant culture,” Dr. Campbell said. “We still have to fight against the ‘holiday’ not being commercialized in the name of capitalism and white supremacy. That is a forever journey.”