Attracted by vendors, speakers and food trucks, dozens of community members from across the community gathered at Hillview Park in Los Altos to commemorate Juneteenth on Sunday, June 19, at a festival presented by Justice Vanguard (JV ), an organization focused on community investment. The event featured guest speakers, dancers and local black-owned businesses.
June 19 marks the anniversary of the emancipation of enslaved black people in Texas on June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. The Juneteenth celebration originated in Galveston, Texas, and dates back to 1866. However, it just became a federal holiday in June 2021, according to Justice Vanguard’s 19 for the 19th, an educational initiative highlighting 19 facts about the Juneteenth story.
The facts, displayed on posters throughout the festival, are also shared on JV website.
“It’s pretty awesome that it’s a nationally recognized holiday now and it’s good to see the community come out and support,” said Angele Bass, a saleswoman at the event.
Justice Vanguard was co-founded by Los Altos High School graduates Kenan Moos and Kiyoshi Taylor. With every event the band presents, there are a few goals, Moos said, “one is to unite our communities and bring people from different walks of life together, and the other is to educate.”
Throughout the Juneteenth festival, organizers have focused on education as a means of empowerment and as a way to build community, from guest speakers sharing their experiences in education to a fundraiser for scholars. black.
“Especially in areas like this where there’s so much money, so much thinking about education, (we want) to make sure we really expand that education,” Moos said.
For black students pursuing studies at a two- or four-year college, JV has developed a scholarship to help reduce the cost of books and school supplies. Additionally, the group has helped lead efforts to institute ethnic studies classes in local school districts, including the Mountain View Los Altos Union School District, where the subject will be a required course starting in the fall. 2023.
“Our goal is to have a different vision of what community is — community is when we commit together for a better future, so it’s re-understanding what education means and how we we educate; it is to understand what community engagement is; it’s about understanding how we can each step up and play a role in the fight for these changes,” said Moos.
To find more information about Justice Vanguard and their initiatives, visit their website at justicevanguard.org.