2013 parade planned for African American month

Posted: June 21, 2012

Community activists and others marked Juneteenth at City Hall on Tuesday by announcing plans for a 2013 African Heritage Parade to mark next June as African American Heritage Month in Philadelphia.

In a prayer at the start of the half-hour program in the Mayor's Reception Room, Marilyn Kai Jewett, a Yoruba priest and community activist, said: "This program will help our people to understand who they are, especially our children to know who they are with their great history, which begins in Africa, not in America in slavery."

The plan for African American Heritage Month and the African Heritage Parade is being coordinated by the Minority Arts Resource Council, a nonprofit group dedicated to arts education and supporting local minority artists.

Curtis Brown, executive director of the group, said the idea is to raise awareness, especially among the young, about African culture and heritage.

With an African drummer, a stilt walker, and a group of black Civil War reenactors, organizers announced that the parade will be held on June 19, marking Juneteenth. Brown said details such as the route had yet to be determined.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when blacks in south Texas were officially told that slavery had been abolished. Texas was the last state to surrender in the Civil War and the last whose slaves heard that they were free.

"This, for all of us from Egypt to Ethiopia to Spain, Brazil and the United States. . . . This is our history," said the Rev. Joe Williams, a local pastor and president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Montford Point Marines Association, five of whose members were featured on the program.

Next Wednesday, Montford Point Marines - the first black Marines, who trained at the segregated Montford Point in North Carolina and fought in World War II - will gather in Washington to receive the Congressional Gold Medal.

Karen Warrington, an aide to U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D., Pa.), hailed the plans. "Let us celebrate," she said, "and let us have a great tradition."

Contact Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or vclark@phillynews.com.

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