A fashion designer, a homeless shelter counselor, a grill master, a sixth-generation Berkeleyan, a band of 5-year-olds and more. These are just a few of the people who celebrated Juneteenth Sunday in Berkeley after two years of virtual gatherings. For them, keeping old traditions alive and building new ones is central to the national holiday.
I took my mobile studio to the celebration to capture portraits of the festival-goers.
“We needed this. It is an inspiration to be here; the energy was different,” said Julicia Washington, 35, who helped her mother, Colia Washington, sell her designs at a booth.
Lasahay Johnson, 30, an after-school educator who lives in West Berkeley, said, “My mama lives here, my grandma lives here. … I was telling [my boyfriend] this morning, my family is from Berkeley, five, six generations! That is rare now.”
People waited for almost an hour to buy food from Delbert Hall’s Texas-Style Barbecue food truck. “It was a good day. People came for the barbecue.”
His son, Delbert (Delly) Hall, 17, a student at Fresno High School, said, “Juneteenth is a day where we celebrate the freedom of African Americans, but anybody can celebrate with us.”
Jarmaica Freeman, 35, who sold Juneteenth T-shirts at the festival, was already in good spirits because the Warriors had won the NBA championship. “The day went pretty good.”
“I have been a board member and volunteer since 2008. It’s been two years of online (festivals), horrible!” Orlando Williams said. “Today was perfect. We welcomed everybody back. What is next? You know, now it is a national holiday, and we have different things for each. On Thanksgiving, Christmas we gather, we eat. On Memorial Day, we go to the beach. What is our Juneteenth thing? We are building new traditions. … I am working on it.”
Photos were taken by Ximena Natera, Berkeleyside/Catchlight