2nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration in the City of Good Neighbors

It was a beautiful day in the City of Good Neighbors, as several hundred people gathered in Memorial Park, on Saturday, June 22, 2024.

Laila Dance Conservatory, (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

By Ricky Richardson | Contributing Writer

     (Hawthorne, CA) It was a beautiful day in the City of Good Neighbors, as several hundred people gathered in Memorial Park, on Saturday, June 22, 2024.

     The occasion was the City of Hawthorne’s 2nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration, on a warm, sunny day. In a Press Release from the City of Hawthorne, “This annual event commemorates the historic emancipation of enslaved African Americans and reaffirms our ongoing commitment to the pursuit of equality and justice.”

     There was no shortage of activities for families to enjoy, which included face paintings, refreshing ice cream, a diverse array of culinary delights from a variety of local food trucks, kids’ zone, and giveaways.

     Residents and visitors engaged with representatives from state, city, and local organizations for information and valuable resources. Vendors were on-site selling clothing, apparel, jewelry, and other accessories.

     Attendees gathered to celebrate African American freedom and resilience while reflecting on our history, change, and progress.

     This year’s Juneteenth celebration was the fourth celebration that I attended this month. This is a testament to the growing acceptance and recognition of this new Federal holiday.

     Juneteenth Celebration in the City of Hawthorne is significant on many levels. First and foremost, this year marks the first large-scale Juneteenth celebration in the city, on the first weekend of summer.

     The event was held in June, which is set aside to appreciate and recognize African American’s magnificent contributions to the landscape of music. 

     Finally, this was a great way for residents and neighbors to learn, engage, and celebrate diverse, cultural communities within the city. Additionally, this event underscores Hawthorne’s commitment to culture, community, and collaboration. Hawthorne Press Release states “This celebration serves as a testament to our dedication to fostering unity, diversity, and inclusivity. By honoring our shared history, and heritage, we reaffirm our commitment to creating a future where every individual is valued and respected.”

     The Juneteenth Celebration enhances the cultural landscape of Hawthorne. Movies in the Park, First Night Out/Night Out, Earth Day, and World Fest are additional unifying events in the City of Good Neighbors.

     Councilman Alex Monteiro wore several hats during this jubilant celebration of African American heritage and culture. Mr. Monteiro served as emcee and oversaw the raffle drawings. Councilman Monteiro acknowledged the presence of dignitaries on site. Congresswomen Maxine Waters, Senator Steven Bradford, Assemblymember Tina McKinnor, Mayor Alex Vargas, Councilmember  L. David Patterson, City Manager Vontray Norris, Dayna Hunter William, City Clerk, Marie Poindexter, City Treasurer, Chief of Police Gary Tomatani, Laura Richardson former Congresswoman, Michelle Chambers former Councilmember and Lawndale Mayor Robert Pullen Miles.

     Attendees enjoyed a wonderful dance performance by Fantasia Dance Ensemble. These confident young kids performed dance routines to several tracks. The ballerina’s dance to “Let it Go,” and “The Lion Queen.” Hip-hop dancers moved to “Just Fine.” The Fantasia Dance Ensemble is led by Alicia Littleton. Laila Dance Observatory, led by Laila Abdullah led a group of youth to showcase cultural dances of Africa.

J.W.B. Band, (Photo by Ricky Richardson

     Attendees were able to groove to the sounds provided by talented local musicians live on stage. J.W. B. Band had the crowd grooving to a soundtrack of old school hits “Love Train,” “Soul Train,” “I’ll Be There,” “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination,” and “What’s Going On.” 

     Conganas brought on the heat as they played a set of contagious Latin jazz, salsa, and cha, cha. The group performed “Cherezada,” “Azucar,” “Sientete Ayi,” and “Bartender Loco,” to name a few. The band consists of Christian Moraga on percussions, Fermin Sinfuentes-keyboards, Carlos Cuba-bass, and Joel Nunez on ewi, an electronic wind instrument. This instrument is popular with musicians in a variety of genres.

Abi Koya, (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

     Abi Koya is a trained opera singer. She showcases her wide vocal range and style on songs from the Great American Songbook and some tracks from Broadway to the delight of the captivated crowd.

Britt J, (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

     Britt J and DeMann closed out the 2nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration on an upbeat note. They thrilled the crowd with the Black National Anthem, followed by a set of classic R&B and soul music.

     Please visit the following link to view an extensive photo gallery of the 2nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration in Hawthorne: