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Juneteenth Festival returns to Kennedy Park for its 52nd celebration

Juneteenth Festival returns to Kennedy Park for it's 52nd celebration
Posted at 12:51 PM, Jun 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-19 16:02:49-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Justice is a weighted word that takes on many forms: empathy, freedom, equality. Juneteenth is a celebration of those values.

"Freedom, celebration, culture, that’s what it’s all about, that’s why it’s really important,” said Larry Starks, the President of Tucson’s Juneteenth Festival.

For Larry Starks, the Juneteenth Festival is evidence of justice in Tucson. He says his brother, Burney, helped make Juneteenth a state holiday in Arizona before passing away in 2015.

“The fact that we can do this, says a lot," Starks said. "The fact that we’re out here, you look around, the mix of people that’s here. You wouldn’t know without me telling you, that it’s an African American event.”

Juneteenth lands on June 19th and commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. It became a federal holiday last year, but has been celebrated in Tucson since 1970.

“It’s not African American, it's American history," said Tim Starks with the Starks Family Foundation. "We were right here, and our blood is in this soil more than anybody else’s.”

Around 80 organizations and vendors set up at Kennedy Park on Saturday. All in recognition of the Tucson community and how far we’ve come since 1863.

“This was really the independence day of America when all slaves were free,” Tim Starks said.

“It’s hard for us as a people to come together in one celebration," Larry Starks said. "So this is really important that we can come out and celebrate with everyone.”

Perla Shaheen is a reporter for KGUN 9. Perla graduated in May 2020 from the University of California, Berkeley, where she majored in Political Science. Share your story ideas and important issues with Perla by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.