Juneteenth Event Provides Cultural Lessons for MacLaren Youth

Youth performed and heard music, and presented about African-American history.

MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility hosted a Juneteenth celebration at the end of June, teaching youth at the facility about music, history, and culture through music and presentations.

Juneteenth is an American holiday commemorating the date when U.S. soldiers brought word of the abolition of slavery to Galveston, Texas — two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. More generally, the holiday represents a celebration of the end of slavery in the United States.

At MacLaren, youth presented on the history of the holiday, performed their own music, and enjoyed barbecue cooked by OYA staff. They also listened to a performance by Portland band Wamba, an ensemble group with members from Ghana and the United States that mixes traditional Ghanaian rhythms with a host of other world styles, including jazz, Latin, funk, calypso, salsa, and reggae.

OYA’s Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations (OIIR) works with youth in OYA facilities to organize cultural celebrations, like the Juneteenth event, to help the youth connect with and learn about their own cultures. But they also sponsor the events to help all facility youth learn about and see themselves in others — making them less likely to devalue others’ experiences.

Juneteenth at MacLaren

Left to right: Ny’Dir, Jamaree, and Tommy educate the audience on the meaning of Juneteenth.

Juneteenth at MacLaren

Turon (left) and Julien rap a song called “Daddy Told Me,” focused on being free from a lifestyle of destructive behaviors.

Juneteenth at MacLaren

Paulo Futi, an OYA group life coordinator, was the grill master for the event.

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