Juneteenth Lehigh Valley Fosters an Inclusive Community Through Education and Celebration

The Fund for Racial Justice and Equity (FRJE), powered by United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, seeks to transform people and communities by actively investing in Black and Brown leaders and organizations. One of this year’s grant recipients is Juneteenth Lehigh Valley (JLV), a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and celebrating Juneteenth’s historical significance. 

JLV acknowledges and commemorates the end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865, celebrates the fortitude of African Americans who endured slavery and educates the general population, specifically youth, about the significance of this day. JLV has organized celebrations since Juneteenth’s official recognition as a national holiday in 2021. 

“We have a week-long series of events from different genres to really elevate the contributions of the African American population to the fabric of this nation,” said JLV Founder Karen Britt. “We aim to unite everyone in celebration and convey a message of hope.”

The nonprofit coordinates various events throughout Lehigh Valley in the week leading up to Juneteenth. This year’s events include:

  • 5K Walk/Run Health Fair in Easton
  • Flag Raising Ceremonies in Bethlehem and Easton
  • Juneteenth Dining Experience at The Bayou in Easton
  • West Ward Association Farmer’s Market
  • Black Literacy Cops and Kids Reading Room Initiatives in Bethlehem and Easton
  • “Understanding Your Hair Story,” a Black hair/beauty/fashion event featuring Wardrobe Stylist and Costume Designer Traci Springer in Easton
  • Juneteenth Music Festival at ArtQuest in Bethlehem
  • Tribute to the National Negro Baseball League with the Iron Pigs at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown

With the help of the FRJE grant, JLV is expanding its reach and impact. Through the funds, it collaborated with a local artist to publish a Juneteenth-themed coloring book distributed to the Allentown School District, supported this year’s Juneteenth celebrations and established a scholarship initiative for graduating seniors in the area. Britt is passionate about continuing education, and the scholarship program is a way to ensure awareness of Black American history. Eventually, JLV hopes to establish an endowment for scholarship opportunities so that there is perpetuity for select young adults annually.

JLV highlights what’s possible when communities unite to uplift and empower all citizens. Organizations like JLV underscore the significance of supporting organizations that create a diverse, equitable and inclusive community where everyone thrives. 

United Way awarded the following local organizations with grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 through the FRJE:

Grant funding is made possible thanks to partners and donors who directed their support to the Fund for Racial Justice and Equity, including PPL Foundation, Crayola, Behr, Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation, Truist, Lehigh Valley Community Foundation and United Way Women United.

Learn more about United Way and the FRJE grant program by visiting our Fund for Racial Justice and Equity page.