Leimert Park has always been epicenter of Black pride
By Anuoluwapo Bamiro, Columnist
On June 19th, 2023, a few creatives from the Leimert Park/Crenshaw District area hosted their 5th annual Juneteenth festival. It is a homage to the Sunday flea market that used to be held weekly around 10 to 15 years ago. Leimert Park has always been the epicenter of Black pride, Black business, and Black community building within Los Angles for as long as I could remember. So, the event was created to honor that while also honoring and celebrating the freedom that Black people fought for and received from emancipation.
This year the festival was the biggest that I had ever seen! It took over the streets from Stocker to Vernon; from Crenshaw to Leimert. There was so much art and so many different artistry and commemoration exhibits for the 50th year anniversary of Hip-Hop. It was honestly a beautiful site to see; from the outfits to everyone dancing, embracing, and loving on each other. The children were outside having fun, dancing, and getting to see the beauty of the community they are from. I loved the energy and the way the community was able to come together, enjoy and celebrate. We had performances from artists like Too Short, Wale, Kalan Frfr, and more. We had local talent performing on various stages as well. Jasmine Sullivan was going to be the closing performance it felt amazing to see just how well and big the festival had got.
However, there were three stampedes caused by false alarms and the community’s, “If one runs, we all run” mentality. At this moment, there was a realization of how dangerous a situation like this could be (crowded and limited space). There were people with their children on their hips, shoulders, and in strollers; so, with three different stampedes, the amount of fear, franticness, and worry I saw fill the atmosphere turned great vibes to complete panic. Along with that, there was a realization that the fights and disturbances (between teens) that broke out accompanied by theft at the local McDonald’s may have caused the commotion.
I guess I have reached the age where I see that a few people can attempt to ruin such a dope, historical, and monumental festival that truly has gotten better every year. It was also made apparent that the safety of the people needs to be the number one priority for events like this. Attendees should feel safe and comfortable to come out into the community and celebrate our legacies and history. They should not be seeing fights in one corner or having to panic due to false alarms of danger. I will also state that there was no service at the park as well. Which when all the stampedes were going on allowed me to see the recklessness in that. Nobody was reported hurt, or hospitalized which is amazing. The community needs to be more responsible and diligent when running in fear in a crowded place. There can’t be running and franticness just for the people to find out later a dog was on the loose, or a tent fell, and that was the cause for commotion.
Leimert Park will always have a piece of my heart and I want to see the Juneteenth festival continue, progress, and be free for the community. The goal is to be able to bring our kids’ kids kids to come celebrate. To keep traditions alive that surpass our times and generations. We have such a beautiful foundation and start with what the organizers of the festival have done. So as a community let us do our part to make sure that it is safe and fun for everyone in attendance, everyone performing, and people who are selling their products.
Aside from very few attendees acting up, the Leimert Park Juneteenth festival was beautiful and showed just how much culture, rawness, edge, economy, and talent we have in our own backyards. People showed up and spent Black dollars with Black people, danced, laughed, skated, painted, and showed why our community is so beautiful, diverse, amazing, and sacred.
Looking forward to the next celebration, and Happy Juneteenth!