It’s hard to believe that ten years have gone by since the first Juneteenth Heritage Festival was held in the parking lot of the Vision Theatre in Leimert Park. At that time, the festival was created and designed to expand on the long tradition of celebrating Juneteenth that had started years before.
Each year on June 19th, local businessman Jonathan Leonard held a celebration in Leimert Park that honored the end of slavery in Texas. There would be speakers, entertainers and plenty of red soda water, BBQ ribs and watermelon for the crowd. No matter the day of the week June 19th happened to fall on, you could depend on Mr. Leonard, a native of Houston, Texas, to hold his traditional celebration.
However, many people missed the chance to participate because of work, school, or other commitments.
Thus, Moza Mjasiri Cooper, founder of Black Arts Los Angeles, a non-profit organization saw an opportunity to create an additional celebration that would take place on the third weekend of June each year. This would allow more people to participate in the celebration, and so with the support of local community leaders, vendors and sponsors, the Juneteenth Heritage Festival was born.