Juneteenth is always a joyful, exciting celebration irregardless of where you’re celebrating. African Americans across the nation typically host entertaining events full of mouth-watering food and great music that will have you dancing all day and night, throughout the weekend of June 19th. This year my hometown Yonkers, NY celebrated as well. It was beautiful to watch my community come together and plan a weekend of festivities for all ages, mainly the youth. Yonkers has always been known for its annual parade and festivities for African American heritage for decades. It use to be the highlight of the summer when I was a child — well at least for me it was. My grandparents were involved in the community. Actually they have participated in the parade a few times and would even let my cousin and I to join along for the ride. The parade always lead to various vendors selling goods, great food and galore! It was nostalgic to attend, yet exciting to be involved as well. Only difference was that there wasn’t a parade and marching band. I had the opportunity to meet with some of the members of the Yonkers African American Heritage Club (YAAHC), Project Inspire Yonkers, local business owners, community leaders, sports coaches, and many more. Each meeting contained creative, powerful, resourceful, and passionate like-minded individuals. They shared the love for Yonkers and creating positive, educational resources for the youth. Various events occurred such as a Kickball Tournament, Educational Symposium, Basketball Workshop, and Open Mic.
“Juneteenth means celebrating our ancestors and acknowledging our progression of our people as we continue to fight and journey through life with our brother and sisters, while we are self-determine in who we are in the mist of our struggle”Tom Ray
Throughout Juneteenth, I also had the opportunity to meet with some community leaders that work alongside athletic extracurricular activities for the youth, such as Basketball. During the Basketball Workshop hosted by TrussTheVision (TTV) and local Podcaster Yyung (Wealthy Talk With Yyung). Although it was a scorching day on the court, they’ve managed to bring out over dozens of kids — girls and boys ranging from all ages. The youngest child I’ve seen at the event was about 7 years old, which amazed me. Besides bringing out the youth, they also had NY Rising Rebel’s team coaches as well as a former Professional International Basketball player — which are all Yonkers native. NY Rising Rebels is a local developmental basketball program that assists students in 8th grade to High School seeking an opportunity to compete in tournaments, exposing their talents to coaches and scouts of higher education. Coach Tae and Micheal expressed creating a positive yet structured environment for their athletes, and becoming positive role models has been a rewarding part of their position. Besides watching them progress and succeed, knowing each player is walking off the court with their head higher than before and more knowledge is the overall goal of NY Rising Rebels. The most amazing part of the Basketball Workshop was that everyone involved was a Yonkers native and also played basketball for local teams throughout their childhood as well. As the other community leader, former Professional Basketball player Chris Ranglin stated in the interview, “whether you consider yourself a low-level athlete or worried you may not be good, you can overcome it all by believing in yourself and working hard”. Having positive role models and mentors are essential in a child’s life. All it takes is one person to give a child their full undivided attention, and patience because sometimes that’s what some are missing at home.
“Good, better, best … never let it rest until your good is better than your best”
It was great to witness as a citizen, especially now as an adult to see such a exciting event to make a comeback and be a success! Overall entertaining educational, yet interactive eventful weekend for the youth. Typically, people tend to complain about the adolescent and label them as “lazy”, “mislead” or “uninterested” yet they’re neither. Most individuals aren’t aware of the valuable resources and community leaders, therefore you cannot fault others for that. Instead of complaining about it, change it. Everyone wants to be informed and mindful of the importance of their heritage and valuable resources the world withholds. All it took was dedication, networking, and discussions to bring their vision a reality. Hence, thank you to the individuals that took their time and energy to plan this event — especially Yonkers African American Heritage Club for never giving up on the community for decades. Most importantly reminding our children, that there is people in their neighborhood who recognize and acknowledge their special talents, skills and abilities. As Tom Ray stated, “there’s nothing they can take from us if we are educated”. We, the community are all rooting for them to become great, powerful individuals they’re meant to be.
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