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Opelika celebrates Juneteenth with downtown festivities

Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 7:00 AM EDT
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OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - A free public event celebrated Juneteenth in downtown Opelika Sunday.

The community came together for a Freedom March around the downtown square followed by a performance from former ‘America Idol’ contestant Lady K.

The event’s theme was a celebration of culture. It included various venders of clothing, food, games, and business.

Event coordinator, Janataka worked with a committee that was formed three years ago to assist with Opelika Juneteenth.

The partners who helped make the event happen consisted of Compassionate Hands of Hope INC, Clubhouse director Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Lee County, Representative Jeremy Grey, Henrietta Snipes of GEMS Empowered, and of course all the local businesses who came out.

Another non-profit organization collaborated with the city for the festivities. Girls STEPS, Inc. CEO Tiffany Gipson says Sunday was a great opportunity to spread the history of Juneteenth.

“It’s very important that we celebrate Juneteenth,” Gipson said. “In Opelika, we have a whole “Together Opelika” movement that’s going on now. So, in order for us to move forward, we feel that is very important that we embrace our culture. So, were very excited to have so many organizations that come together to put this on for the community so we can share the history of black people and the freedoms that we do have.”

The event even had special competitions to honor all the dads on Father’s Day. One of the competitions being a fun dance-off enjoyed by many.

Willy Payne said his favorite title is being a father and loved spending it at the Juneteenth event.

“Hey, its was a sad thing, but now we make it a good thing and it was a good celebration everyone had,” said Payne.

The evening wrapped up with Lady K who thanked everyone for the support throughout her journey on the show.

“It was only possible that I got that far because of you guys voting every week and support and sharing things and just getting the word out,” Lady K said. “I just want to especially thank y’all and I enjoy getting to have this moment with you.”

The city plans to continue the event every year.

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