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YMU celebrates Juneteenth
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The community was treated to good music, food and fellowship during Saturday’s Juneteenth celebration held by Young Men United. Booths were set up to allow merchants to sell various items and food. - photo by Nikki Childers

Young Men United poured passion and hard work into creating a Juneteenth celebration to bring the community together – and the organization accomplished exactly that. With recent recognition as a federal holiday, many were ecstatic to gather for Juneteenth.

It was also a chance for YMU to unveil some of the restorative work done on the old Bernard School property. The gym’s floor, like much of the property before YMU stepped in to take over the restoration of it, was in disrepair and had begun to buckle from negligence and deterioration. Saturday’s event highlighted the restored gym with its even and shiny floors, a stark difference from its previous state.

Henrietta K. Lusk, a new member of YMU as of almost year ago, was on hand to enjoy the event. “It has grown from last year. Our members are so talented and helped it all come together. A lot of team work has gone into making this happen,” she said. “It’s a good feeling to see this many people out enjoying themselves. We worked hard to have something for everybody. We appreciate having everyone out here today.”

The event was well-attended and fun. Inside the newly refurbished gym, a bouncy house complete with slide and basketball hoops was appreciated by groups of children who busied themselves with shooting hoops and bouncing around.

The outdoor area was filled with vendors and crowds milling around, enjoying the offered wares and the fish fry that took place for the duration of the event. By the early afternoon, Bobby Knox said he and his team had sold over 80 pounds of fish since they set up at 10 a.m. “We’ve stayed really busy today,” said Knox. “We’ve kept a line the whole time.” 

While he fried up the fish, Yahsunn “Little Bit” Harden, Annette McReynolds, and Rosie Geno Harden worked to tend to their hungry customers.

Warren Arts made an appearance to give a sneak peek of its upcoming play “Oh Freedom! The Story of the Underground Railroad” with Regina Pullin serving as the lead in her role as Harriet Tubman. The play highlights the story of Tubman as she worked with a network of individuals who risked their lives and freedom to shuttle slaves to the north where they could realize freedom. 

The talented theater group will be doing showings for the play Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and a matinee showing on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Lusk indicated the driving point of the celebration was educating people about Juneteenth and what it means to the Black community. “We want to make people aware of what this is and what it’s about,” she explained. “We also want people to see what YMU does and the work that’s been done out here.”