“It moves people to action:” Eastern Shore Juneteenth Festival returns to downtown Salisbury



SALISBURY, Md.- “It kind of shows you what the community can do when we put or minds to it,” Eastern Shore Juneteenth’s James Yamakawa said.

Downtown Salisbury got a splash of red, black, and green Saturday afternoon as the 5th annual Eastern Shore Juneteenth Festival made its return. “Considering the history of the downtown area, something this joyful happening here is a way of turning it on its head. We’re claiming it for joy and celebration,” Yamakawa said.

“It moves people to action and that’s really important in this community because before we weren’t really seeing a whole lot of movement in terms of black centered things and black center holidays,” Eastern Shore Juneteenth President Makya Purnell said.

The day included live entertainment,  products from over 40 vendors,  food from local black-owned businesses, and for the first time ever a parade.

Although the day was full of fun, we’re told it was also a chance for festival goers to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday. “It’s really a moment for us to be reminded of the work that needs to be done but also find joy in where we’ve been,” Purnell said. “It’s just a reminder of how much black people have overcome and continue overcome.”

“I came out here to learn more about my culture and for people to come together in unity and love,” Festival goers Terron and Deriah said.

Organizers say their hard work paid off, as they saw the biggest turnout in the events history. “I remember that first year we probably only had a couple dozen people, if that. Now, we’re talking about several hundreds. It’s amazing,” Purnell said.

Organizers say Saturday’s turn out has them excited to bring the event back bigger and better next year.

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