For the past six years, Oak Park has had a Juneteenth celebration because of Anthony Clark and Juanta Griffin. The two remain committed to seeing Oak Park celebrate the event but this year is slightly different as the Village of Oak Park has taken a more direct role in helping to plan the parade and community cookout.
“We want the village to come in and take responsibility for it so that it can be sustainable,” Griffin told Wednesday Journal.
The important tradition of celebrating Juneteenth should be maintained annually but the responsibility of planning such a major event for the entire community can lead to burn out if left to only two primary organizers, according to Griffin. Clark declined to comment. Having municipal involvement increases access to resources, so the celebration can continue being free to the community.
For the 2023 parade and cookout this Sunday, Griffin and Clark worked directly with Dr. Danielle Walker, the village’s diversity, equity and inclusion officer. The village is also having a flag raising ceremony Wednesday at village hall. Together, Griffin said, the three struck up a balance between community involvement and government support.
“We wanted it to be an inclusive process where community members are involved in the planning and feel like there’s some ownership,” said Griffin. “We wanted to keep that.”
It was also important that no one felt left out of the process, particularly those community members that have volunteered their time to Juneteenth planning and celebrations over the years.
Inclusivity extends beyond the planning of Juneteenth. Griffin was adamant that the celebration is not just for Black Americans but for all people.
“As a nation we celebrate freedom,” she said. “This is for everyone.”
The parade steps off at 11 a.m., Saturday morning, from Longfellow Park near Jackson Boulevard and will march on through Ridgeland Avenue to Augusta Street. The community cookout ends at 5 p.m. in Taylor Park, 400 Division St.
Oak Park Juneteenth parade sponsors:
- Good Heart Work Smart Foundation
- The Nova Collective
- Byline Bank
- Race Conscious Dialogues
- One Earth Film Festival
- Oak Park Climate Action Network
- Climate Ready Community Outreach
- LifeSpan Counseling & Psychological Services
- Wintrust Bank Oak Park