Juneteenth celebration back in drive

Covid-19 put the brakes on original plans, but community advocates came together to put the event back on track.

Alesha Brown, founder and executive director of For the Struggle, Inc., is passionate about service and social justice, which includes celebrating the culture of black people in spaces created by black people. That’s why she was committed to hosting a Juneteenth celebration in Historic West End — plans that were initially derailed by Covid-19.

But with the help of several community partners, Brown’s ambitions for a celebration to commemorate the end of slavery are back on track.  The Juneteenth Liberation Drive-Thru Celebration along  Beatties Ford Road –one of Charlotte’s most historic black corridors — will take place Friday from 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

The reimagined event is the brainchild of Wisdom and Cherie Jzar, owners of Deep Roots Community Planning Solutions. They and their five children are actively involved in the Charlotte community, including operating an urban farm located on a family homestead in northwest Charlotte that serves the residents of Historic West End.

Soon after Brown announced she was postponing the Juneteenth celebration, she was contacted by J’Tanya Adams, founder and program director of Historic West End Partners. Adams had received an email from the Jzars, who had an idea for a drive-thru event to demonstrate unity among the organizations that serve the residents along Beatties Ford Road corridor. Adams connected Brown with the Jzars and several other community partners to craft a celebration that would adhere to Covid-19 social distancing practices.

“We weren’t willing to allow Juneteenth 2020 to not happen,” Wisdom Jzar said. “It was important that we demonstrated our unity in the movement in support of our ongoing fight to end state-sanctioned violence against black people and in an effort to end white supremacy.”  

Tiffany Fant of SolNation, Reggie Singleton of The Males Place, Bernetta Powell of West End Seafood, Don Thomas of My Brother’s Keeper, Jarrod Jones, board member for McCrorey YMCA, Maarifa Ukweli of the League of Intelligence, and A Sign of the Times band collaborated with Brown, Adams and the Jzars on the drive-thru event.

“We recognize that this is a different type of celebration,” Brown said. People who attend can expect a festive atmosphere that includes music, an emcee and representatives from community organizations who work along the corridor or in support of the corridor, all while practicing social distancing and being safe, she said.

Community organizations will decorate cars, and representatives from their organizations will line the stretch of Beatties Ford Road from LaSalle Street to Interstate-85 to share information about the services they provide in the community. 

“Now is the time to come together to not only encourage the community to support our efforts or join our organizations, but for each of us to build a tighter connection to support efforts, coordinate, and move forward in our struggles together,” Jzar said.

More area celebrations

In the West End: Coalition for a New South is celebrating Juneteenth with a Food Truck Rally on Friday from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. at Hornets Nest Park (6301 Beatties Ford Road). Enjoy an evening of music, food and speakers. The event serves as a call to ban police chokeholds. All participants are required to wear face masks.

For a list of Charlotte-area Juneteenth celebrations, click here.

Brandi Williams
Brandi Williams is a broker for change.

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