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ST. PETERSBURG - Faye ...
ST. PETERSBURG - Faye Dowdell, coordinator for the annual Juneteenth celebration is gearing up for the event even though due to the stagnant economy some of the funds she depended on in the past are not forthcoming.
"We have received so much and the donations continue to come in for Saturday's event so I am not discouraged," she shared.
She said she and others that work on the Juneteenth committee often have to come up with creative ways to raise money and to attract the attention of corporations.
"Every year we sponsor a cruise which has turned out to be our biggest fundraiser.
The cruise is a lot of fun and open to everyone," said Dowdell.
Dowdell's enthusiasm is over shadowed only by her passion as she shares why the Juneteenth celebration is so important to the community.
"Juneteenth isn't just a party," said Dowdell, "it is a major historical event that changed the lives of so many.
Slavery was horrible to say the least, so when we come together to celebrate Juneteenth we are standing on the shoulders of many who did not make it.
We must recognize the significance."
Communication in the African-American community has not always been as easy as it is today.
In fact, back a couple of hundred years ago blacks were not allowed to share information or talk with people from other farms and plantations.
"I get excited when the children come to the drum tent at the celebration and learn blacks used drums to communicate with friends and relatives miles away and that communication helped some make it to freedom," said Dowdell.
The Juneteenth celebration, which depends strongly on corporate sponsorship and donations, is primarily run by Dowdell who depends on concerned citizens, friends, family and now, three energetic Eckerd College students, who promise to do whatever she needs.
"I spoke to one of the trustees at Eckerd College and told her I needed some help to get the celebration off the ground this year and Eckerd sent me three exceptional students and they are wonderful," said Dowdell.
The celebration which takes place Saturday at the Campbell Park Recreation center gets bigger and better every year.
"Even though there is no budget and a lot of the corporate support realized in years past has dwindled down.
I am still excited to know we will put this event on and that we get an opportunity to share with the children a part of their history they don't know," she shared.
Dowdell shared that many of the sponsors that did not pull out have done an outstanding job in supporting the efforts with all types of resources.
Juneteenth commemorates African-American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement.
It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
Celebrations are held in most states and in several foreign nations.
"I celebrated Juneteenth for the first time in Germany while on military assignment in 1980.
I didn't even know what it was," shared St. Petersburg native, Dowdell.
Board of Directors
Faye Dowdell, CEO/Treasurer
Civilian Police Review Committee Members
Faye Dowdell 6/30/07