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City Council moves forward with Juneteenth celebration

The event is scheduled for June 18-19 in downtown Fayetteville.


The Fayetteville City Council is moving forward on a proposed Juneteenth celebration with a consensus voting for the location, design colors and how much the city will appropriate to the Cool Spring Downtown District to present the event.

The council met Monday evening for a work session at the FAST Transit building on Franklin Street.

When Bianca Shoneman, CEO and president of the Cool Spring Downtown District, presented ideas last month for the inaugural Juneteenth festival, some members of the City Council expressed concerns over the proposed colors and where it would take place.

She was asked to return after making adjustments to the proposal. At that time, Mayor Mitch Colvin asked her to reach out to consultants and other organizations to gain some extra insight and direction on the event. 

The event would be a first for a collaborative downtown district and city-sponsored tie-in to the federal holiday that commemorates the abolishment of slavery in the United States.

On Monday, the council approved $141,000 for the celebration.

The event also has been retooled from a Friday and Saturday event to a Saturday and Sunday festival in the heart of the city. The Juneteenth celebration is now scheduled for June 18 and June 19.

The City Council voted Jan. 10 to make Juneteenth a city holiday. After that, Shoneman said she was asked to come up with ideas for what the city might do to celebrate the occasion.

A previous focus on the Americana genre of acoustic music, including bluegrass, has been dropped from the plans. Instead, organizers will incorporate music acts with what is expected to be a broader appeal.

The first day of the celebration will run from noon to 9 p.m., anchored by a jubilee walk. On Sunday, hours are set from 10 a.m. to midnight with a VIP Heritage Reclamation Project brunch. Along with that would be a Praise Party held at Festival Park from noon to 6 p.m.

The latest proposal calls for the celebration to be held on the four streets that split off from the downtown Market House.

“Alright. It certainly looks good,” Colvin said to the group that talked up the revised plans. “We need to make sure we’re ready in what, 90 days?”

Shoneman said the Cool Spring Downtown District had not yet pursued event sponsors.

She said Cumulus Broadcasting, which owns and operates such radio stations as WQSM, WRCQ and WFNC in the city, is looking to be allocated $31,000 for the musical entertainment part of the project at the park. This would include payment to what was said to be a three-time Grammy award winner in the presentation.

Councilwoman Yvonne Kinston asked if organizers had decided on the cost for the planned VIP brunch.

“We have not,” Shoneman replied.

Councilman Larry Wright inquired, “What is the message we’re trying to get out? Because of the history of slavery, Juneteenth is the date slaves were free in Texas. They said we were free, but in actuality, we were not.”

That came during a long discussion on the colors the celebration would embrace in its logos and publicity materials.

Councilwoman Courtney Banks-McLaughlin said the festival should incorporate an educational component for those unfamiliar with Juneteenth.

Councilwoman Shakeyla Ingram said the festival should have people wearing shirts that say “Ask me about Juneteenth” for those to want to learn more. She also said she wanted to see a section of the city set aside where people could speak freely on Juneteenth and possibly other matters of importance in America in 2022.

Wright said he supported a blending of the colors of red, white and blue from the U.S. flag to red, black and green from the Pan American flag, symbolizing the journey of African Americans in the United States.

The consensus of the council was to go with both sets of color and that the city utilize largely the areas of the Market House and Franklin Street for the planned celebration.

After that, they voted to provide the Cool Spring Downtown District with $141,000 for the project.

Those decisions from the work session will now be passed on to the City Council for a final vote at one of the two regular meetings in March.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Fayetteville, City Council, Juneteenth celebration, downtown, Cool Spring Downtown Distirct