BATAVIA/Just Kings’ Juneteenth Celebration Makes Big Steps – Video News Service

‘This gives us the opportunity to show our talents’

Victor Thomas, Lamar Randall, Dionna Thomas at the Just Kings food stall table.

By Mike Pettinella
For video news service

(Photos by Alecia Kaus)

The annual Juneteenth Freedom Day celebration, coordinated by the Batavia-based Just Kings Social Club, has come a long way since its inception four years ago.

“I remember the first one behind the YMCA (of Genesee County) and today’s event with so many vendors and activities just shows the growth,” said Dionna Thomas, sister of Just Kings President Victor Thomas. “It’s so great to see people in our (African American) community giving back.”

Dionna was one of several hundred people who came to Williams Park in Batavia this afternoon for the free event that runs until 8 p.m. tonight.

She said she hopes residents of all races will support Just Kings’ efforts to promote unity and togetherness.

“We have to be the change we want to see,” she added.

(Submitted photos)

Victor Thomas noted that it was the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 that provided the impetus for founding Just Kings. This year’s celebration kicked off with an appearance by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

“If it wasn’t for that day, this celebration wouldn’t have happened,” he said. “It has since raised money for our back-to-school and Christmas toy drives and we hope to have the haunted house by Halloween.”

This year’s program includes 17 vendor booths – including 10 from nonprofit organizations – along with food stalls, bounce houses and other youth activities, and musical entertainment.

Brandon Armstrong takes a moment to pose with Genesee County Youth Bureau staff members Sara Gregori, left, and Theresa Osborn during the Juneteenth Freedom Day celebration in Williams Park Photo/Mike Pettinella

Representatives from the Genesee County Youth Bureau handed out snow cones (until they were gone).

“It’s great that we have been asked to participate for the second year,” said Theresa Osborn, youth office employee. “This brings the community together and gives us the opportunity to serve our youth and lead by example.”

Attica resident Angel Bowman said she came to the festival to support Bowman’s colleague, children’s author Paul Gurgol, who was at a booth promoting his book “Zero the Hero.”

She was accompanied by her uncle, Mike Szatkowski, who said he “thought there would be good food here.”

For the second year in a row, Batavian Brenda Williams set up her popular Brenda’s Sweet Treats tent, with treats such as cake pops, candy apples, brownies and sweet potato pies.

“What this day means to me is that it gives our culture an opportunity to shine and showcase the talents God has blessed us with,” she said. “He gets all the credit.”

Juneteenth, officially Juneteenth National Independence Day, is a federal holiday in the United States celebrated annually on June 19 to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. The name of the holiday is a portmanteau of the words “June” and “nineteenth”, as it was on June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger ordered the final implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas at the end of the American Civil war.

Roc Hard Vette Club & Classic Cars- Al Bethel, Vice President, Will Simmons, President Jennifer Warrick, Secretary, Greg Bacon of Batavia. The club will host its third annual car show at Genesee Valley Park (Riverbend Shelter) in Rochester on July 27 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Kim Allen – with a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado that she has owned for seven years

Joe McClaney with his 2017 Corvette