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Kent celebrates Juneteenth 'Launching a Legacy'

Tommie Lamb, of Kent, president of the Sam Bruce Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, discusses the pioneer aviators
Tommie Lamb, of Kent, president of the Sam Bruce Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, discusses the pioneer aviators' legacy during the Juneteenth celebration last Saturday at the Kent Senior Center.
— image credit: Rachel Ciampi/Reporter

Organizers with the Kent Black Action Commission (KBAC) presented the second annual Juneteenth celebration, "Launching a Legacy", at the Kent Senior Center on Saturday,

The community event featured programs, information, vendors, food, entertainment and speakers commemorating African American freedom and emphasizing education and achievement.

"(The event) was a tremendous and excellent success thanks to the spirit of getting things done. So much love, joy and unity in the place," said Gwen Allen-Carston, KBAC executive director. "We had interest from new folks who ventured out, and because of what they saw and felt, they now want to be full-fledge members of KBAC."

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19 as the African American Emancipation Day has spread throughout the country, including Kent.

One the speakers was Tommie Lamb, of Kent, president of the Sam Bruce Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, who talked about the pioneer aviators' legacy. The chapter was named after a Garfield High School graduate who was shot down over Sicily during World War II in 1942.

The Tuskegee Airmen were trained in Tuskegee, Ala., to become fighter pilots and bomber pilots. They were the first black aviators in the U.S. armed forces. Lamb was too young to have fought in the war, but he belongs to the chapter, a nonprofit dedicated to keeping the airmen's story alive and giving scholarships to students who want to pursue careers in aviation and aerospace.

The program was supported by many sponsors and volunteers.

"Some of our elected officials stopped by and had some time to share with the people, thoughts and inspiration to keep growing strong," Allen-Carston said. "A few local candidates had a moment to share and meet with folks, face-to-face, answering questions and hearing the concerns."

Sponsors included: State Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn); UFCW 21; King Country Councilmember Julia Patterson; Clowns Unlimited; Crystal Water; C&G Hair and Beauty Supply; Kent Lions Club; Pinnacle Foods; Island Soul Restaurant; Increase Construction; Maya Vengadasalam; Road Map Project; Sweezer family; Johnson family; Richardson Family; The Rev. Jimmie and Alice James, and many others.

"Thanks to everyone who came through," Allen-Carston said. "Our planning has already begun for next year. We are looking forward to taking it to another level of celebration each year."

To learn more about the organization, call 253-852-0614 or visit www.kentblackactioncommission.com.

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