Mayfield marking Juneteenth with speakers, celebrations
Mayfield will celebrate Juneteenth for a third consecutive year this weekend, with planned events Saturday and Sunday set to bring together community partners to highlight Black history and look to the future.
Juneteenth National Independence Day is an annual commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, marking when the last slaves learned they were free in Texas on June 19, 1865. Juneteenth was made a federal holiday last year.
Mayfield first organized Juneteenth proceedings following the national Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, as announced by former city councilperson Derrick Parrott via Facebook. Parrott, one of the organizers of this year’s event, said acknowledging this history enables the youth to learn about their culture and ancestry.
“It’s important in a small community [like Mayfield] because it’s an opportunity for people in the community of all races, ethnicities, ages, and socioeconomics to gather and share thoughts, ideas, and experiences, which is meaningful,” Parrott said.
E. Josiah Kenty is a Paducah Middle School teacher from Birmingham, Alabama. He’ll kick off the event with a speech about togetherness at noon Saturday after opening remarks from pastors. Kenty said people are sometimes prone to division during times of turmoil, which is why he encourages rebuilding communities through unity.
“If we can come together and see the beauty that other cultures possess — see the beauty of even history on how civilizations were able to move forward through unity — I feel like we could all come together and do that for Mayfield,” Kenty said.
Kenty thinks commemorating Juneteenth is crucial to ensure people remain aware of this portion of American history beyond Black History Month, though he recommends continuing such education year-round.
“We can’t limit the amount of information that we gain to just those two moments of time,” he said. “It has to be an ongoing learning experience to embrace the full impact that the culture can really have.”
Vendors including Mayfield natives Brandon and Shonta Cavette, The Murray Bank and others will offer clothing, ice cream, haircuts and more at Eddie Williams Park on Pryor Street until 8 p.m. Saturday, with a middle school basketball tournament beginning at 2 p.m.
Sunday will highlight Black fathers with a cornhole tournament at 2 p.m. followed by Father’s Day remarks at 3 p.m. and a Dunbar reunion at 5 p.m. The weekend will wrap up with a community worship service from 6 to 8 p.m.