Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Get Up, Stand Up
June means Juneteenth (the 19th of June) which is the day African Americans celebrate the freeing of slaves back in 1863 --tho it didn't reach the folks in Texas until June 19, 1865 (which kind of sounds suspicious, perhaps there was a Bush in power way back then?). We in Pomona don't have to go far to teach our children about freedom and diversity, since our very own Ganesha Park in Pomona is host to the Pomona Valley Family Juneteenth Celebration and Job Fair on Saturday, June 17 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. That's at 1575 White Avenue. Info at 621-9707. It's free and there's entertainment, food and activities for the entire family. This is one of the largest Juneteenth events in California.
Before I lived here, I was under the impression that Pomona was a predominantly African American city, like Oakland or Detroit. I was suprised by how few Black folks I've seen around town since moving here in 2003. From what I understand (and correct me if I am wrong), Pomona used to have a much larger population of African Americans starting in the late 1960's when a General Dynamics plant closed here and opened up lots of affordable housing, at the same time that the Watts Riot in Los Angeles caused many Black folks to move out of Los Angeles. By the year 2000, however, the population of African Americans here had dwindled to 9 percent. My friends Charmaine and Jennifer, both Pomona natives, tell me most Black people moved from Pomona because they bought brand new homes in Rialto and parts east. A native Pomonian that my husband plays basketball with had a more ominous explanation. He claims that the Mexican Mafia declared open season on Black people found on the streets of Pomona. According to him, after a Black person was actually killed to make good on the threat, there was a mass exodus. Fact or folklore?
One thing is for sure, the underground railway's Harriet Tubman was an awesome individual. I found an adorable internet site created by children all about her at http://www2.lhric.org/poCantico/tubman/tubman.html If you can't get to Juneteenth with your toddler, they'd probably enjoy the timeline, complete with computer generated children's pictures.
Mr. Big is one quarter African American. He does not look the part (his other nickname is Undercover Brother), nor does he see his Black relatives, since they all live in Connecticut. I therefore welcome the opportunity to expose him to his heritage. See you Juneteenth.