Thursday, May 30, 2024

Anderson .Paak to perform DJ set at Juneteenth Long Beach celebration

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Juneteenth Long Beach will be returning this year come Saturday, June 15 at Rainbow Lagoon Park in Downtown Long Beach—and it will be bringing DJ Pee Wee (aka Anderson .Paak) on board for a DJ set like no other.

Anderson .Paak’s appearance at Juneteenth Long Beach has been a long-held dream come true

For Juneteenth Long Beach organizer and producer Carl Kemp, the journey and evolution of the celebration has been incredible to witness—especially across its short four-year lifespan. And as each year of Juneteenth has grown—some 10,000 people showed up last year—Kemp’s ambitions with its entertainment has grown along its side.

“I prayed for this from the very first Juneteenth Long Beach celebration I was blessed to do four years ago,” Kemp said. “I wanted the Black community of Long Beach (and those who love it) to have the very best in music—and DJ Pee Wee is one of the GOATs. He is a complete musician, with black belt level skills in drums, vocals, rhymes, and artistry, and I truly believe this is gonna be a day to remember for everyone in attendance.”

This is not .Paak’s first rodeo in Long Beach: Last year, he was seen at DTLB’s Solita space promoting his mojito brand, El .Paakito, before heading over to The Bungalow at 2nd & PCH to promote their new rebranding as a club and lounge.

And this isn’t to say that the entertainment hasn’t always been stellar: Each year, Juneteenth Long Beach has always highlighted our local Black culture in a way that few events do. From Pastor Wayne Chaney of Antioch Church of Long Beach leading the opening prayer and having CSULB students lead the crowd in singing the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” to steppers’n’drummers next to DJs and live vocalists, Juneteenth Long Beach is about uplifting the Black community and sharing that uplift with our neighbors.

“Under Carl Kemp’s leadership, a traditionally neighborhood centered celebration of the freedom of enslaved people in Texas has become one of the largest Black cultural events in the region,” said community leader and DJ Senay Kenfe, who has appeared at Juneteenth Long Beach celebrations to showcase music. “We’re now able to showcase the resiliency and enduring foundation of our community downtown in the center of Long Beach.”

Juneteenth Long Beach is about uplifting the city’s rich Black community

“This thing is about the simple things: joyfully celebrating Black culture, honoring our history, and creating a space for community unity,” Kemp said. “Black culture is foundational to what makes America great, and Juneteenth is the perfect holiday to celebrate Black freedom in all of its expressions.”

While Juneteenth, also known as Black Independence Day, has been a federally celebrated holiday in the U.S. for only the past three years, Black families across the country have been honoring the day since 1865, following two-year stretch between President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the formal ending on slavery in 1865. On that June 19 day in 1865, former slaves immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasts, songs and dance—and since then, it has been a mark for the Black community in owning their resilience, their contributions, and their beauty with block parties, cookouts, parades, festivals…

Kicking off in 2021 along Pine Avenue, Juneteenth Long Beach has quickly evolved into one of the largest Juneteenth celebrations in not just the region but the state: Over 10,000 showed up to the 2022 and 2023 outings, with an even larger number expected this year as it once again returns to Rainbow Lagoon Park (the venue it has been at since 2022 due to its ever-growing popularity). It joins a variety of other smaller events throughout Long Beach, from the Juneteenth-meets–Fatherhood event at Martin Luther King Jr. Park last year to Harbor Cruise’s Juneteenth fireworks cruise.

A note for non-Black people (myself very much included) about Juneteenth Long Beach

Juneteenth Long Beach is, first and foremost, a Black event for and by the Black community; it is secondly a national holiday open people to all colors as long as its history and creation is respected and acknowledged. Non-Black attendees need to be aware, both spatially and socially, when exploring the event. Purchasing one of the tables or reserved seats and skipping the free ticket? If sold out, you are potentially taking space from Black residents who want to support the event financially.

Perhaps even more bluntly: Non-Black folks—myself very much included—can’t keep asking to be invited to the cookout without knowing why the Black community is hosting Juneteenth in the first place; acknowledging Juneteenth means acknowledging an utterly horrifying part of our country’s history: that unpaid Black labor and slavery built this country and continues to have massive, detrimental effects on our Black community. Juneteenth, long before it became recognized by non-Black communities following the death of George Floyd, was a Black holiday known by few if any non-Black folk, and it now faces the potential corporatization and commercialization that could remove it from Black hands.

Be respectful, be kind, be aware.

For free tickets to this year’s Juneteenth Long Beach celebration, taking place on Saturday, June 15 at Rainbow Lagoon Park, click here.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

2 COMMENTS

  1. […] Juneteenth Long Beach, which commands a presence with an explosive mix of culture, music, and community, has witnessed a crowd swell to some 10,000 people in recent years. Event organizer and producer Carl Kemp, expressed high anticipation for .Paak’s appearance, “I prayed for this from the very first Juneteenth Long Beach celebration I was blessed to do four years ago,” Kemp said, “I wanted the Black community of Long Beach (and those who love it) to have the very best in music—and DJ Pee Wee is one of the GOATs,” according to longbeachize. […]

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