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Celebrate Juneteenth today at Evergreen Park

This Saturday, the Kitsap County African-American community is sponsoring a substantial commemoration of of “Juneteenth,” which celebrates the final emancipation of Texas slaves on June 19, 1865. The celebration is slated from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Evergreen Park in Bremerton and will feature free barbecue, games, socializing and a clown.

But even with this recognition, Kitsap County still has a distance to travel before it reaches a plane of blissful racial tolerance, according to one of the celebration’s principal organizers.

On Monday afternoon the Board of Commissioners passed a resolution commemorating Juneteenth, which was accepted by Robert Boddie, the executive director of People Organized Working for Ethnic Reality (POWER), a Bremerton-based youth advocacy organization. While the Juneteenth party is paramount, the ultimate purpose is to educate the general public about the importance of this holiday, which “is as big as the Fourth of July in Texas,” according to Boddie.

Boddie, 46, has lived in Kitsap County off and on since 1966. While he notices some improvement in racial attitudes he said they do not go far enough.

“Kitsap still has a long way to go,” he said. “A lot of people just don’t want to change. They need to get used to the fact that we are here to stay, we are property owners, we run businesses and are part of the community.”

The answer to the problem, according to Boddie, is for people outside of the African American community to attend events like the Juneteenth celebration, Beyond that, they should attend African American churches and make a concerted effort to learn about another culture.

Since the Juneteenth celebration recognizes a historical event, learning about it can only narrow the gulf between the different races, according to Boddie.

“It helps you to learn about where other people are from in order to understand them,” he said.But even with this recognition, Kitsap County still has a distance to travel before it reaches a plane of blissful racial tolerance Boddie said.Minutes after the meeting Boddie was in discussion with Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer about an incident of alleged racial profiling.

Boddie said he was pulled over in Silverdale by Deputy Dave Green on June 8 ostensibly for having a clear plastic cover on his front license plate. Boddie said he immediately asked for Green’s badge number, at which time Green became intractable about issuing a ticket. While he is investigating the incident, Boyer said that biased based policing does not exist in his department. Traffic enforcement isn’t always consistent, he said but the decision to issue a citation instead of a warning is up to the individual officer.

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