Community Unity Shines at Third Annual Juneteenth Village Fest

Common performing at It Takes A Village Family of Schools’ Juneteenth Village Fest at Douglass Park (Credit: Ethan Davis).

By Ethan Davis

Last Saturday (June 15), It Takes A Village Family of Schools (ITAV) held the 3rd annual Juneteenth Village Fest at Douglass Park.

The festival on the West Side was headlined by Nola Abde, Bella Bahhz, the rap group Dead Prez, and artist Domani. The lineup included Chicago’s own DJ Boolumaster and Grammy award-winning artist Common. Common performed his greatest hits while also revisiting some hip-hop classics.

The event was free and open to everyone. Many families came to the event to give their children a fun time. There was a Ferris wheel, obstacle courses, carousels, rock climbing walls and other carnival attractions for kids to enjoy.

On the road within the event’s boundaries, local vendors lined up to sell and promote their services. Plenty of clothing and accessory stores were present. Organizations like New Leaf Illinois, which helps clear cannabis convictions, were there, too.

Food trucks and caterers were present, too. 

Bryanna Lewis, a part of Waltuo Kreations, came to help out during the festival. Waltuo Kreations is a party rental and catering company created by Lewis’ mother, Shica Outlaw, in 2019.

Lewis also met other vendors and collaborated with them as they went to the event last year.

“Yeah, so that’s really what it’s about, bringing the community together, and it’s the village festival,” said Lewis. “The village always do this for people and give back to the community. It’s wonderful that they’re doing it the Juneteenth week.”

It Takes A Village Family of Schools' Juneteenth Village Fest brought the community together for a day of celebration

It Takes A Village Family of Schools’ Juneteenth Village Fest brought the community together for a day of celebration (Credit, Ethan Davis).

Community is the word that defined this event. Black people danced together, ate together and laughed together. Ronald Madison, who frequents concerts and events often, went to the Juneteenth Village Fest for the first time this year.

“Above anything,” said Madison, “Just seeing us gather together and be in that same place…You know, that’s the biggest thing that just does it for me.”

Juneteenth’s origins date back to June 19, 1865, when the last enslaved people in the country were told they were free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863. In 2021, it was designated a federal holiday.

Douglass Park, where the Juneteenth Village Fest was held, is named after abolitionists Federick and Anna Douglass. The name was campaigned for by ITAV. Juneteenth will continue to be celebrated and embraced by Black people around the country.

“If we learn how to lift one another up and love one another, man,” says Madison, “We’d be the most powerful people in the world, which we really already are.”

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