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By Sharan Street
Published Jun 12, 2023

Juneteenth Reasons to Celebrate

A week from today, California’s state employees can take a paid day off to celebrate Juneteenth—the first time they’ve had this opportunity since Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1655 on Sept. 29, 2022.

Juneteenth, which marks the anniversary of General Order No. 3, issued on June 19, 1865, that proclaimed freedom for slaves in the state of Texas, has been a paid state holiday in the Lone Star State since 1979. Before that, it had been celebrated for generations in the African American community, and the tradition spread to other parts of the country after the Great Migration, when more than five million Black people left the South and headed north and west during World War II.

Though it’s only been a federal holiday since 2021, Californians have been celebrating Juneteenth for decades. 

Next Saturday, Central California residents can mark the holiday in multiple locations: In Santa Clara County, the African American Community Service Agency is gearing up for its 42nd Juneteenth event. In Santa Cruz County, find details on Facebook about the Juneteenth Parade to the London Nelson Center, home to Juneteenth celebrations since 1991. The Monterey County Black Caucus has a soiree planned in Seaside’s Laguna Grande Park and the Salinas Juneteenth Celebration Association is hosting festivities at Hartnell College.

Residents of the Capital region will find plenty of opportunities to mark the occasion, including events June 16 in Rancho Cordova’s Hagan Park, June 17 at Black Miners Bar in Folsom and at Johnson-Springville Park in Rocklin, and three days of activities in Sacramento’s William Land Park that comprise the Sacramento Juneteenth Festival.

Rooting for Democracy

Regardless of what goes on in the highest court in the land, all throughout our state there are Californians exercise their right to vote and engage with elected officials. Below you’ll find information on organizations that work to protect the vote and promote civic engagement—the right of citizens to directly influence their government.

Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved

These organizations aim to help citizens engage with their governments.

Shoring Up One of Democracy’s Pillars

Finally, in his most recent blog post, California Local’s Chris Neklason considers the fourth estate—the free press, which has long been considered one of the four pillars of democracy. He takes a closer look at California Assembly AB 886, the so-called California Journalism Preservation Act, which he calls “a well-intentioned but misguided attempt to address the decline of local journalism.” Read more about the real reason for the decline of large media chains—and the hopeful signs Neklason sees in small newsrooms.

News Deserts and Information Archipelagos

As the news desert fades, the information islands come into view.
In which we contemplate the demise of the "newspaper of record" at the hands of private equity, and the rise of the small newsroom network to replace it.

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