Chris Persaud Palm Beach Post
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new non-profit called "Juneteenth of PBC" hopes to run after-school programs to teach students about financial literacy and economic empowerment.
The idea had been brewing in Sukeenah Kelly’s head since 2017.
“How dope would it be to bring the Juneteenth festival to Palm Beach County?” Her friend Brittany Mitchell replied, “Let’s do it.”
So they and four other friends founded the not-for-profit Juneteenth of PBC last summer, as the nation was in an uproar over police killings, Black lives and civil rights.
After a year of late-night phone calls, gathering dozens of businesses, planning and organizing, the women’s vision became reality Saturday, when hundreds of people gathered at the Marina Village Park for music and food to celebrate the 156th anniversary of the end of American slavery.
As the sun heated up the afternoon to 90 degrees, mothers pushed babies in strollers, kids jumped in bounce houses, cooks served a variety of food — Cariibbean, barbecue ribs, sweets, smoothies and more — and girls danced in the grass to songs as diverse as Michael Jackson to Megan Thee Stallion.
Entrepreneurs in fields from real estate to law to cryptocurrency, shared more about their businesses to attendees at the event.
The point of it all, Mitchell, 31, said, was to raise money to help people in less well-off communities in the county, through Juneteenth of PBC. The money will help pay for the group’s efforts to run after-school programs to teach students financial literacy and economic empowerment, she said, as well as help pay for therapy sessions for people who need it.
Juneteenth of PBC plans to pay for a trip to Africa for students who finish the four-year after-school program, dubbed The Culture Clinic, Mitchell said. “That final goal of the trip to the motherland is something for them to look forward to.”
Webster Casseus, one of the six members of the group, said he wants to help kids in the rough communities such as where he grew up. Many of eastern Palm Beach County’s killings happen in a stretch of neighborhoods from Riviera Beach in the north to northern West Palm Beach in the south.
Casseus found himself in the middle of a melee in 2004, age 17, at a Checker’s fast food joint in West Palm Beach, where police had asked a crowd of teens to leave when they’d gathered there following a high school football game between Palm Beach Lakes and Homestead. When the teens refused and started arguing, a scuffle between them and the cops broke out. Casseus said at the time he was pepper-sprayed while helping up a friend of his who had been knocked down by an officer.
Casseus graduated high school at 19. Instead of completing college, he said, he ran clubs and events . After he became a father to two girls, he said, he went back to college. Now, at 34, he has a degree from Florida International University, he said, and works as a photographer. He wants to show the children coming up now that they can make it too.
“I know people who didn’t even make it to 18,” Casseus said. “I wanna help the future. … A lot of these kids do not have older men egging them on to do the right thing.”
Juneteenth of PBC is composed of six people. Mitchell and Casseus say they need all the help they can get, and are looking for people with skills ranging from social media to treasurer, and more. Anyone interested in helping or donating can go to juneteenthpbc.org or email [email protected]
A short history of Juneteenth President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, during the Civil War, declaring all enslaved people free. But the slave states that seceded from the Union in 1861 ignored the decree. And news of Lincoln’s order didn’t reach many of those living under slavery’s brutal rule.
On June 19, 1865, more than a month after President Andrew Johnson declared the war had officially ended, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to deliver Lincoln’s edict.
Thus, Juneteenth — a portmanteau of June and 19th — was born, celebrating the end of slavery. About 156 years later, this past Thursday, President Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Since it fell on a Saturday this year, many employers, including the federal government, observed the holiday Friday, giving workers the day off.
___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.