Buddy Young, Sheriff Tony Mancuso and Stitch Guillory of the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office barbecue team prepare the judging plates for the 2010 cook-off at the Juneteenth Celebration. (Brad Puckett / American Press)
Last Modified: Sunday, June 17, 2012 8:53 PM
The annual KZWA-FM Juneteenth celebration kicks off this week with the “Taste of Freedom” brunch, which will feature guest speaker Karen Carter Peterson, chairwoman of the Louisiana Democratic Party.
The brunch will be held at 9 a.m. at KZWA studios at 305 Enterprise Blvd.
The holiday originated in Galveston, Texas, in 1866 to celebrate the anniversary of the date the slaves in Texas heard about emancipation. That was on June 19, 1865. It is now celebrated by African-Americans throughout the country.
KZWA owner Faye Blackwell has been celebrating the holiday for more than two decades.
“We started in 1990, the holiday started in Texas and I found out about it while working in Beaumont,” Blackwell said.
“I learned what the holiday was all about and feel like we should be part of it. Even though it started in Texas, it still has meaning to us and now celebrations are carried on throughout the United States. We should always remember our history and hold onto it. It means something when people can stand up and be proud of what they have come from and what they have become.”
Blackwell said the focus will be on family fun.
“It gives us a chance to come together and have clean celebrations,” she said. “No alcohol is allowed on or near our grounds. We just have a lot of good, clean fun and get a chance to exhibit the talent of our local people. It is a time of freedom. Just seeing people have somewhere to go and have some pleasure encourages me to keep it going.”
In addition to the speech by Peterson, the brunch will include musical performances and a social. Peterson is a graduate of Howard University School of Business and Tulane Law School. She served 10 years in the Louisiana House of Representatives before being elected state senator for District 5 in 2010. Earlier this year, she became the first female chair of the Lousiana Democratic Party. She is a two-time winner of the Alliance for Good Government Legislator of the Year award.
The celebration will continue June 22 at the Lake Charles Civic Center 2-10:30 p.m. Admission is free 2-4 p.m. After 4 p.m., the admission will be the Juneteenth commemorative T-shirt or $10 at the door.
The event will include a variety of competitions that will include three-on-three basketball, a barbecue cook-off and a “Sound Like Josh Ledet” competition. Performers on the KZWA Sound Stage will serve up Southern soul, zydeco, hip-hop and R&B tunes.
A variety of vendors will be on-hand selling food, drinks and arts and crafts items.
For information about booth space, sponsorships, cook-off registration, contests and competitions, call the KZWA studio at 337-491-9955, extension 17, or visit the KZWA studio at 305 Enterprise Blvd.