Santa Cruz Juneteenth
In 1991, Raymond Evans, then Assistant Director of the Louden Nelson Center, introduced Juneteenth to Santa Cruz. As a Texas native, Evans was surprised by the lack of Juneteenth recognition in Santa Cruz, and aimed to bring the celebration's sense of community and pride to the city. The festivities at Louden Nelson Community Center have since been a great success, thanks to their diverse offerings. The event also honors former slave London "Louden" Nelson, a local legend known for his generosity to the school system, who has been a cultural symbol in Santa Cruz for over a century.
Juneteenth marks the day the last group of enslaved African Americans learned that they were free on June 19, 1866. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective 1863, there was difficulty getting it implemented in places that were still under Confederate control. When some 200 Union troops came to Galveston Bay, Texas, and announced that the 250,000 enslaved blacks were liberated by executive decree. It was a jubilee. That day is known as Juneteenth and is African American Independence Day.
Juneteenth is now a federal holiday. You can learn more about America's second Independence day here.