Q&As From Juneteenth

The Dunbar court is chosen based on essays written by the students at the center, their attitude in class and how they treat others. The winners are then announced at the Gala in May. This year’s Mr. Dunbar, Jyair Crouch, and his mother, Tarea Crouch, along with other 2011 Juneteenth attendees, vendors and volunteers answered The Stand’s Q&As.

Jyair Crouch is the 2011 Mr. Dunbar

Name: Jyair Crouch
Age: 10
Hometown: Syracuse
Occupation: Mr. Dunbar 2011

Q: What was your reaction when you were selected?
Jyair’s Answer: Surprised!
Tarea’s Answer: I think I was more surprised than him. They didn’t tell the parents until the day they announced it.

Q: What does Juneteenth mean to you?
Jyair’s Answer: Everything

 

From left to right, Barb Mattison, Kitty Rice, Earline Thompson and Pauline Smith represented the Juneteenth Committee at the Juneteenth Information Booth.

Name: Juneteenth, Inc. volunteers: Kitty Rice (2011 NIA Award Recipient for Outstanding Civic Leadership), Barbara Mattison, Earline Thompson (15+ year volunteer) and Pauline Smith

Q: How did the Juneteenth Celebration get started in Syracuse
A: (Kitty Rice) Juneteenth got started with Jesse Dowdell and George Kilpatrick to mirror the celebration held in Texas

Q: How many years has Juneteenth been celebrated in Syracuse?
A: This is our 24th Juneteenth

Q: How many attendees were there at the first Juneteenth Celebration?
A: Around 50. It was held at the Southwest Community Center.

Q: How many attendees were there at last year’s celebration?
A: There were 28,000 over three days

Q: How do they determine the number of attendees?
A: There is a map that is overlaid over a picture to determine the numbers

Q: How many volunteers do you have?
A: We have from 100 to 110 volunteers. It is a year-round process. It takes a lot of work to get funding and sponsors.

Q: How do you sign up to volunteer?
A: Visit our website at www.syracusejuneteenth.org. A young man has volunteered to update our website, which wasn’t completely updated before due to budget cuts.

Q: What does Juneteenth mean to you?
A: (Barbara Mattison) History to present to future generations.

Kevin Henry

Name: Kevin Henry
Age: 37
Hometown: Syracuse
Occupation: Henry’s Southern Fried Chicken

Q: Why are you here today?
A: I’m a board member of Juneteenth, and I vend at all festivals  I help set up other people’s booths as well as my own.

Q: How many Juneteenths have you attended?
A: Seven

Q: What does Juneteenth mean to you?
A: Juneteenth is a means to show our culture to all races. To attract more people and show them how we celebrate. Share our tasty foods and our good music. The one or two people who cause trouble are not us and what we represent.

Q: What is your favorite part about Juneteenth?
A: I always make my numbers at Juneteenth. I sell a lot.

Jean Wright

Name: Jean Wright
Age: In my 60s
Hometown: Born in Mississippi but has been in Syracuse 44 years
Occupation: Retired and active in Dunbar Senior’s Group

Q: Why are you here today?
A: The Dunbar King and I attend the same house of worship. His first cousin was the Queen last year.

Q: How many Juneteenths have you attended?
A: For three years downtown

Q: What does Juneteenth mean to you?
A: The camaraderie between Juneteenth and the Dunbar Center, and the King, Queen and small kids who are in the parade

Q: What is your favorite part about Juneteenth?
A: I like the children, the people and the music. Children are my heart.

Luzette Van Ness

Name: Luzette Van Ness
Age: 58
Hometown: Utica
Occupation: Retired

Q: Why are you here today?
A: I’m here with my church, Promise Land Church of East Syracuse, to win souls for the Lord.  I’m an usher.

Q: How many Juneteenths have you attended?
A: This is my first time at Juneteenth.

Q: What does Juneteenth mean to you?
A: It is a way to network and meet people.  It brings families, churches and organizations together.

Q: What is your favorite part about Juneteenth?
A: The food — the fried chicken.

 

Juanita Otieku and grandson, Kofi Achampong

Name: Juanita Otieku and grandson, Kofi Achampong
Age: Kofi is 4
Hometown: Clay

Q: Why are you here today?
A: We came out to celebrate the end of slavery and the freedom of our people.

Q: How many Juneteenths have you attended?
A: Three

Q: What does Juneteenth mean to you?
A: It’s nice that we have our own day.

 

— Q&As by Brenda Muhammad and Durrie Bouscaren