MARIN CITY, Calif. - Hundreds of people gathered to honor Juneteenth at Marin City’s Rocky Graham Park. The celebration is held annually and is known for being one of the largest in the North Bay and this year’s theme was ascension.
"If you don’t know where you come from, then you don’t know where you’re going," said MC Culture and Arts director Oshalla Dee Marcus. "It’s important to learn about your history. Ascending is about not being stuck in the past. It’s about moving forward."
Marcus was instrumental in Monday’s opening ceremony that honored the crowd's ancestors.
"The ancestors are why you’re here," she told the audience. "And so,we pour water into a plant to symbolize life and that their life is extended in this ritual."
The Juneteenth celebration also took time to honor stewards in the community, including Jackie Deedrick.
Deedrick has called Marin City home for more than 70 years and was honored for her contributions to community.
"I’m more of a behind the scenes person," she said. "But to be honored is really wonderful. I love this city so much, we all do."
Also honored was elder Royce McLemore. She spoke on the importance of community and roots.
"Everyone has a purpose in their lives," she said. "So, to the young I would say you have purpose and God has you here in Marin City so, utilize your purpose for the betterment of our community here."
Monday’s celebration also brought together small businesses, many of them participated in a large block-party like event. Items were sold in the African Marketplace, a space designed to share knowledge, food, fashion, jewelry, art, books and provide an opportunity for people to experience African Culture.
"The Marin City Juneteenth festival stands on the shoulders of that original festival committee that started 7 years ago," said organizers. "Their diligent work has brought culture and healing to Marin City and the rest of the Bay Area. "The festival has been life changing for many youth who grew up in the community."