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Juneteenth Jamboree in Amherst to celebrate African-American culture

The event on the Town Common from 3 to 7 p.m. will feature live music and other performances.

“Juneteenth is about freedoms, particularly for African-Americans,” said Deborah Radway, the town’s director of Human Rights and Human Resources. “This will be a celebration of African-American culture and heritage.”

She said the Human Rights Commission’s annual awards ceremony recognizing heroism by youth and elders will also be included.

“We felt like we wanted to open it up to a bigger event by joining forces and have a larger celebration,” Radway said.

Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when general orders were given in Texas, a former Confederate state, to liberate all people of African descent who were still enslaved.

Performers at the jamboree will include Preecha Kungo and Igziabeher playing roots reggae music, the 2050 Legacy doing a movement-musical piece including original poetry, the TRGGR Media Collective bringing “aesthetics of justice” hip hop music, and the New Africa House Ensemble playing a jazz set.

Spoken-word artists from the Black History Month Unplugged event at the University of Massachusetts will also perform, and Tosh Foerster, a local representative of the Governor’s Statewide Youth Council, is scheduled to speak.

Radway said Juneteenth embraces the ideals of the commission, including mutual respect and honoring diversity.

“We want to celebrate all the human rights in Amherst, especially the great work youths are doing in the schools and in the community,” Radway said.

This includes raising awareness for those who are less able and of different backgrounds and sexual orientation, she said.

In addition, the jamboree’s theme is the well-being of area youth and developing their leadership skills.

For the ninth year, awards will be given to students, ranging from elementary age to graduating high school seniors. The commission will also recognize Reynolds Winslow, a member of the commission since 1999 who recently stepped down when he left Amherst. The awards presentation will take place about 5:30 p.m.

The 11 students getting awards were all nominated by teachers. They are Jenna and April Schilling at Fort River, Eva Ross-Perkins, Daudy Guerrero and Wesley Killough-Hill at Crocker Farm, and Xaq Kruezer-Land, Benjamin Thiessen, James Kirwan, Regina East, Dominik Doemer and Zhui Adams, all at the high school.

Each will receive a gift and a certificate inscribed with a comment from Bishop Desmond Tutu: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s these little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

The event will by emceed by Liam Brodigan, a student member of the Human Rights Commission, and Sajo Jefferson. Both are members of the Amherst Regional High School’s Minority Student Achievement Network and People of Color United.

In addition to the Human Rights awards, community recognitions will also be made by the Sankofa Coalition of community action groups.

Three of Sankofa’s organizers include Trevor Baptiste of Pelham and Amilcar Shabazz of Amherst, both members of the Amherst Regional School Committee, and Edward Cage, the vice president of Amherst’s branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

In a statement, Baptiste said the groups joined together for the empowerment of young people.

“This Juneteenth is for them to demonstrate their leadership and creativity in a spirit of peace, love, unity and having fun,” he said.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Want to see what else is going on? Visit the Gazette's events calendar at www.gazettenet.com/artsentertainment/calendar …

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