Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future. Its growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long over due. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today. Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our society.
This is the Agency's 37th year sponsoring the Juneteenth Festival in San Jose. Over the 36 years, the Bay Area Juneteenth has average over 10,000 people and entertainment has ranged from artist like Case, Jaguar Wright, Jon B., Reuben Studdard to groups like the Drifters with a wide range of local artists from Rap/Hip Hop to R&B, Gospel and Jazz. A wide variety of food, art work, retailers, community services and local business has always been a major drawing card for the event. Our festivals has always embrace educating the community on a diversity of information ranging from health to educational and financial wealth. We are a family-oriented festival with a variety of activities suitable for all ages.
A few years before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday became a National Holiday, a few individuals from IBM, in the South Bay, began to have lunch in his honor to celebrate his life and legacy. This idea eventually extended throughout Oakland, Palo Alto and San Francisco. San Jose remains the only city that has continued to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. legacy over the past 27 years.
Now hosted by the African American Community Service Agency, the proceeds raised from the Martin Luther King Luncheon go towards our programs that serve our youth such as the AACSA Leadership Academy, Summer Day Camp, the Toys for Tots Holiday Program and After school Literacy Program. A community event since 1980, the annual Martin Luther King Luncheon has been an important part of the celebration of the Martin Luther King holiday. The MLK Luncheon unites a combination of community and trade organizations, corporations, philanthropists, and students for a one-of-a-kind affair.