Residents commemorate Juneteenth

CNJ staff photo: Gabriel Monte Tony Woods, left, served deserts such as peach cobbler and cakes during Saturday’s Juneteenth celebration at O.G. Potter Park. The desert station went through about five cake trays.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

It took three days after June 16, 1865 before blacks in the south received the news they were free.

The celebration commemorating that event is Juneteenth.

In Clovis, William Hall said he has been organizing the annual community gathering celebrating the event for about 14 years.

“I decided 14 years ago to start celebrating in Clovis to represent our ancestors that were in chains and to let them know that we haven’t forgotten them,” he said.

Held Saturday, the event drew about 300 people to the O.G. Potter Park, where volunteers served barbecue foods such as brisket, ribs, catfish and peach cobbler.

Hall said the event was funded through donations from local businesses and organizations including Leal’s, Southwest Cheese Factory and the American Legion.

For some people, the point of the event is to bring the community together.

“That’s what it’s all about: Meeting people, socializing, seeing old friends and meeting new friends,” said Terry Ardrey, a 60-year-old Clovis resident.

Sebricia Johnson, 10, said she enjoyed the food and playing with her friends.

NAACP Clovis branch President Selmus Price said the event isn’t just a gathering exclusive to the black community.

“It’s a fellowship, a good cross-section of the community,” he said. “How can you share your culture if you keep it amongst yourselves?”

The Clovis NAACP set up a booth at the park with voter registration applications.

Albuquerque-based substance abuse treatment organization Relevancy Inc. set up a table at the park with applications and information for Medicaid. The organization received a grant to gauge Medicaid enrollment in communities such as Clovis.

Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield said she attended the event to read a proclamation honoring Juneteenth but stayed and had, “The best barbecue I’ve ever had.”

“They brought me this huge plate; I was so embarrassed because I ate it all,” she said. “I thoroughly enjoyed it and will not miss it next year.”