Local groups such as El Mercado, People’s Cooperative Market, Enough is Enough: Bloomington, and Black Lives Matter B-Town are hosting events this weekend to recognize Juneteenth while celebrating and supporting BIPOC members of the Bloomington community.
Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. While Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when slaves in Texas learned the Civil War ended, Indiana first celebrated Juneteenth as a state holiday in 2020. This is the first year Juneteenth will be recognized as a federal holiday, as the Senate passed a bill to recognize Juneteenth on Tuesday.
On Saturday, the People’s Cooperative Market and BLM B-Town’s Juneteenth Pack the Pantry drive will take place from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Harmony School.
On Sunday, El Mercado and Enough is Enough: Bloomington will partner to host a Juneteenth celebration market from 1-6 p.m at the Banneker Community Center.
“El Mercado’s goal is to create a self-sustaining community platform for POC and other minority groups,” El Mercado volunteer Jess Tang said. “The point of our market is to provide service to uplift POC business owners.”
The El Mercado market occurs on the third Sunday of every month, but is partnering with Enough is Enough: Bloomington to put on a special celebration for Juneteenth.
Tang said the market will feature bands including The Algoriddims and Shades of Purple. Music by DJ Davy and DJ SLatino will also be featured. Attendees will have the opportunity to buy arts, jewelry, food and more from Black vendors, as well as bring material donations of household items and other essentials to be given away at the free table, Tang said.
In addition to Juneteenth being a day of celebration, People’s Cooperative Market and BLM B-Town member Jada Bee said it is also a chance to reflect on ways to achieve equity and justice for the Black community.
“I would like Juneteenth to not just be a celebration or commemoration, but also have that service oriented goal,” Bee said.
Pack the Pantry aims to bring goods to understocked food pantries in Bloomington, specifically in Black communities. People should bring “canned goods, shelf stable pantry goods, home goods and other must-have supplies”, according to the People’s Cooperative Market Instagram page.
In addition to material goods, both People’s Cooperative Market and BLM-Town encourage financial donations. Part of these donations will go towards the BLM Farm to Families program which provides weekly meals to Black households.
“We noticed a lot of Black and Brown people are still really struggling. COVID has hit Black and Brown populations much stronger,” Bee said. “We need to reinvigorate the BLM Farm to Families program and pull some more money into it so that we can continue to feed them for another full year, on and on.”
People’s Cooperative Market and BLM B-Town member Lauren McCalister said food pantries are just the start of finding a solution to the problem of food insecurity and food apartheid within BIPOC communities.
“Reparations is to not just build these pantries and leave them bare, but to actually take on the accountability in their neighborhoods or wherever these pantries are to fill them regularly,” McCalister said.
El Mercado, People’s Cooperative Market, BLM Bloomington and Enough is Enough: Bloomington all say they aim to foster a community of support for Black and other minority groups in the city. Not only are they providing immediate resources to people, but they are setting up a sustainable network working to guarantee a path towards individual economic stability and community support.
“We have so many people and families that have given feedback... saying you have helped sustain me, you have helped me thrive,” People’s Cooperative Market member Brandi Williams said. “That's the thing, we're saying it's not enough to just meet the minimum, it's not enough to just survive. We need people to thrive, we need people to have healthy bodies.”
Each organization encouraged people to see Juneteenth weekend as an opportunity to become more aware and involved in all that is happening within the BIPOC community of Bloomington.
“Use your Juneteenth as the launching pad to show up every week for your community,” Williams said.