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LA Celebrates Juneteenth With Food, Community And Memories

A large group of people dance during the Leimert Park Rising Juneteenth celebration on June 19, 2021 in the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.
People dance during the Leimert Park Rising Juneteenth celebration on June 19, 2021 in the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.
(PATRICK T. FALLON
/
AFP)
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Saturday was the inaugural of the country's newest federal holiday: Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery.

Many Black Americans have been marking the day for years, honoring their culture and their history.

Kevin Bludso, owner of Bludso's Bar & Que in L.A. and a native of Texas where the celebration was created, said food played a central role in his family’s Juneteenth celebrations.

“My granny used to make homemade ice cream and peach cobbler, it was just a huge day,” he said. “My granny used to start cooking days ahead of time to get prepared for it.”

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Bludso added that barbeque has a long history in this country — one that began with enslaved people.

“Slaves didn't have no kitchens,” he said. “They cooked outside. We took cuts of meat, like brisket, and made them into works of art back in the days.”

Marne Campbell, chair of the African American Studies Department at Loyola Marymount University, said even with the new holiday designation, there will always be those who don’t want to see the day celebrated.

“There will most likely be pushback against the acknowledgement of Juneteenth as a holiday,” she said. “However, African Americans will continue to push for more change.”

For Campbell, more change would mean “the same access to education, education funding and resources, to support black businesses, things that put Black people on an equal playing field.”

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She added that it was easy for the government to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Now, it needs to do more.

“Juneteenth is an easy day to do, to just make a federal holiday and to acknowledge, but there needs to be more,” she said. “Black people, we deserve more. We helped build this nation and we have been held back for generations.”

Juneteenth celebrations continue across L.A on Sunday.