The valley’s first annual Juneteenth celebration from Black Lives Matter (BLM) Phoenix Metro, a fundraiser, ended before it started due to a low level of community interest.
“Hey BLM family! Deepest regrets but our Juneteenth event is postponed. We’ll keep you all updated on the new date. Juneteenth is a very important holiday that should be taken seriously and celebrated,” wrote the organization. “We unfortunately did not have the capacity or momentum behind this event to put it on this year. We were hoping for this to be an awesome event. Stay tuned for our next big celebration.”
Those wishing to attend were asked to pay a minimum of $50 for general admission, which came with a swag bag, limited edition BLM shirt, and one green raffle ticket which could win designer sunglasses or other luxury items with a $500 to $1,000 value.
There were other, higher-priced tickets: $100 for a “supporter”-level ticket, which came with the general admission items plus an additional green raffle ticket, and a “trailblazer”-level ticket, which came with the general admission items plus an additional red raffle ticket for winning luxury items over $1,000 in value. A limited, undisclosed number of “solidarity” tickets for low-income and BIPOC-only individuals (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) were available for $25.
The organization, which has over 10,000 followers on Twitter and over 33,400 followers on Instagram, first announced the event in early May.
BLM Phoenix Metro explains that part of its mission is dismantling white supremacy, abolishing police and prisons, and prompting community healing from generational trauma. As part of their “Who We Are” page, the organization quotes Assata Shaukur, the infamous cop killer and FBI Most Wanted Terrorist.
Some of the organization’s most recent work included protesting outside Phoenix City Hall against increased funds for the police force.
In honor of Juneteenth, the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Tucson Field Office announced that hours for the Lukeville Port of Entry would be extended.
The announcement came out a day after CBP released the May numbers for illegal immigrant encounters — another record high. CBP has also faced an increase in drug and human trafficking. Earlier this month, CBP caught a trafficker passing through the Lukeville Port of Entry with 45 pounds of meth in a fuel tank. That’s over 20,400 grams, enough to cause an overdose in over 10,000 individuals. Overdose rates on meth vary according to drug purity and individual tolerance, but overdoses have been reported in those who ingested just several grams.
Earlier this month, the Lukeville Port of Entry’s asphalt repair was the Biden administration’s first completed project through funding the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The law includes $3.4 billion for 26 construction and modernization projects at land ports of entry like the one in Lukeville. The GSA estimated that the billions will create an average of 6,000 jobs over the next 8 years.
The GSA also claimed that these ports’ commercial capacity limits were putting further strain on the ongoing supply chain crisis.
Biden declared Juneteenth a federal holiday last year, or “Emancipation Day.” The holiday celebrating former President Abraham Lincoln’s emancipation of slaves originated with small church gatherings in Galveston, Texas in 1866. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation three years prior in the midst of the Civil War. At the time, Texas was part of the Confederacy, which explained in part why the proclamation wasn’t honored immediately.
Union troops’ enforcement of Lincoln’s proclamation occurred June 19, when they arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform Texans that the Civil War had ended. Union Major-General Gordon Granger read aloud General Order No. 3 to the people of Galveston, declaring all slaves in Texas to be free.
Modern Juneteenth celebrations have also become an avenue for further social justice advocacy, such as adopting diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, according to the founder of D.C.-based Juneteenth Foundation, Laquan Austion.
The holiday comes across as controversial for those who believe that Independence Day on July 4, the commemoration of the Declaration of Independence’s ratification, serves as the formal holiday for celebrating freedom and unity.