By Ricky Richardson, Contributing Writer
(Long Beach, CA) a large diverse, multicultural crowd, estimated 9,000, attended the 2nd Annual Long Beach Juneteenth Celebration. Long Beach Juneteenth Celebration, founded by Carl Kemp is fast becoming a premiere event, a welcome addition to the entertainment and tourist core of the City of Long Beach.
The festivities were held on Saturday, June 18, from 10:30am-7:00pm at Rainbow Lagoon Park, in the City of Long Beach. The event was free, guests had to RSVP online for a ticket for entry. Music, food, step show, art, culture, activations was the order of the day.
A large blue and silver cake emblazoned with ‘Happy Birthday Long Beach’ was a fitting intro for my attendance at the Long Beach Juneteenth Celebration. The cake sits outside of the Long Beach Terrace Theater. I can only imagine how nice the cake would look glowing at night enhanced by the lights of the fountain.
DJ JiJi Sweet greeted the crowd with an array of old school classic jams. Aundrae Russell, KJLH Radio, 102.3FM and Pastor Wayne Chaney, Antioch Church of Long Beach welcome the crowd to the joyous celebration of Juneteenth in Long Beach. Pastor Wayne Chaney gave Opening Prayer. Cyrus Payne, Cal State Long Beach student, led the crowd in singing the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Carl Kemp, Long Beach Juneteenth Founder greeted the audience and gave an overview of where the idea originated to produce the Long Beach Juneteenth Celebration and gave a brief history of Juneteenth. Mr. Kemp got the show underway way by honoring Ancestors during the Libation ceremony.
Dembrebrah West African Dance & Drum Ensemble showcased the energetic and vibrancy of West African drumming and dancing.
Antioch Church of Long Beach Mass Choir jubilantly sang Praises “How Great is Our God,” “I’ll Praise the Lord,” and “The Lord Our God is Wonderful.”
Dorsey High School Drumline greeted the crowd with a thunderous entrance and fabulous dance movements by the Drill Team. The talented students exited the stage to the roaring sound of applauses after their crowd pleasing performance.
The previous performance served as a perfect segue to the Black Greek Step Show performed by superbly by Fraternity and Sorority members from Cal State Long Beach.
DJ Senay stepped on deck to play a timely soundtrack of tunes that kept the crowd moving, featuring members of the Long Beach Police Department.
Rahsaan Patterson delved into his catalog of music to entertain the crowd with some of his popular songs “Sent From Heaven,” “Spend the Night,” “Where You Are,” and “Stop Breaking My Hearth” to name a few.
Philosophy, spoken word artist, along with vocalist Jessica Lange dropped two relevant and timely pieces in celebration of Juneteenth, followed by comedian Megann Jenkins.
Katalyst Jazz Collective had the crowd grooving to “Leimert Day,” “WhatsAname,” and “On My Way to You” from their debut CD Nine Lives.
Gee Mack and Asia Raye rocked the celebration with a set of classic R&B hits from back in the day. “I Can Love You” by Mary J. Blige, “Don’t Waste my Time” by Usher, “Before I Let Go” and “Happy Feelin’s” by Frankie Beverly & Maze.
Carl Kemp, Founder, Long Beach Juneteenth was joined onstage by elected officials and sponsors. Mr. Kemp acknowledged and thanked each one for their monetary support and resources. In attendance were Vice Mayor Rex Richardson (no relations), City Councilmembers Cindy Allen, Al Austin, Dr. Suely Soro, Mary Zendejas and Suzie Price, City Manager, Tom Modica, City Auditor Laura Doud, Steve Goodling, President and CEO- Long Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Wayne Chaney, Pastor Antioch Church of Long Beach and Eric Miller, Long Beach Unified School District.
Marsha Ambrosius brought down the house as she had the crowd vibing to closed out the celebration on a good note.
Visit www.lbjuneteenth.com and follow same @lbjuneteenth on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and visit https://www.visitlongbeach.com so that you can stay in the loop for the exciting and inviting upcoming events in Long Beach, CA.