Jazz guitarist Michael Powers jams during his concert in the park at the KBAC Juneteenth celebration last year. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Jazz guitarist Michael Powers jams during his concert in the park at the KBAC Juneteenth celebration last year. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

KBAC hosts Juneteenth in the park on June 23

Festival, celebration renamed to honor late member

The Kent Black Action Commission (KBAC) presents its seventh annual Linda Sweezer Memorial Juneteenth Festival and Celebration on Saturday, June 23, from 10 a.m. to dusk, at Morrill Meadows Park, 10600 SE 248th St., Kent.

The family-friendly, community-wide, cultural celebration commemorates African-American freedom. It is free to the public.

The event has been renamed to honor Sweezer, a KBAC member, who was killed in her East Hill home last year.

Active in her neighborhood and wider community, Sweezer joined KBAC – a small grassroots group working to shape, support and advance conditions of the African-American community – several years ago. She was a smiling, warm personality who helped coordinate events, including the Juneteenth gathering.

Sweezer was “a special soul, a wonderful spirit, a compassionate human being … someone who reached beyond herself to help others, someone who encouraged others to help others,” said Gwen Allen-Carston, a friend, colleague and executive director of KBAC.

“Linda was one of the heartbeats of our organization and bringing a Juneteenth Festival to Kent was her brainchild,” KBAC leaders said in a news release. “We feel a great loss without her, but we will forever honor her memory.”

Juneteenth marks an important day in African-American history. It has been 153 years since the word of the signing, on Sept. 22, 1862, of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached Galveston, Texas, over 2½ years after the fact, on June 19, 1865. Each year on or about June 19, celebrations take place throughout the United States to remember and pay homage of the historic day.

It is the oldest, nationally-celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the country.

The opening ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. There will be a lineup of speakers, lunch provided by KBAC, games for children, a community dance and vendors showcasing their services and products.

Nationally known Seattle jazz guitarist Michael Powers returns for the third straight year to headline the entertainment in the park.

For those who would like to support KBAC in its ongoing efforts, donations can be made to the organization’s GoFundMe account.

To learn more, visit kentblackactioncommission.org or Facebook.

For more information, email KbacKent@gmail.com, contact Allen-Carston at 253-486-9029, or Azalea Johnson at 253-631-7944 for vendor inquiries.

Linda Sweezer. COURTESY PHOTO

Linda Sweezer. COURTESY PHOTO

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