• Winona Rajamohan

San Jose Gears Up for 37th Annual Juneteenth Festival in Downtown


Read on San Jose Inside


The 37th annual Juneteenth festival takes place Saturday at Plaza de Cesar Chavez in downtown San Jose. Organized by the African American Community Service Agency (AACSA), the festival celebrating the abolition of slavery in the U.S. will be a day of food, culture, and live performances headlined by Grammy-award-winning R&B singer, Brandy.

The highly anticipated theme decided on for this year’s Juneteenth festival is “Celebrating Sankofa,” meaning that understanding our present and ensuring our future requires us to know our past.


“This symbol, this word, and meaning is to remind us as people to look back into our roots into which we came from,” AACSA Executive Director Milan Balinton said. “It’s about teaching and encouraging each other to reach back into our potential, resources, and knowledge as a community and what we have contributed to society.”


In the spirit of “Celebrating Sankofa,” Silicon Valley’s African and African-American culture will be highlighted through live reggae and Caribbean music performances on the main stage, a “Soul Food Row” and arts and crafts vendors.


Festival partner San Jose Jazz will also be entertaining the crowd throughout the day at their mobile boom-box stage with a lineup of bands soon to be announced.

Attendees have the opportunity to visit health screenings, a community resource tent with representatives from more than 30 community-based organizations as well as a kids and youth area packed with fun and games.


The grand opening will welcome 5,000 anticipated festival-goers with a procession of San Jose city and elected leaders.


“The festival encompasses community, education, and learning about our resources,” Balinton said. “It creates camaraderie to celebrate what our people fought for.”


The Juneteenth weekend kicked off with a pre-Juneteenth Sankofa open mic night Thursday and continues tonight with an event at Milpitas City Hall titled, “Education Before Celebration—Let America be America,” and hosted by the San Jose-Silicon Valley chapter of the NAACP. It continues with the Saturday festival and a Father’s Day celebration on Sunday at Bible Way Christian Center.

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