There were several celebrations held around San Diego County for the country’s commemmoration of the second annual federal Juneteenth holiday. Examples include the North San Diego County NAACP-hosted event in Oceanside with music, arts, vendors and a vaccine station on June 18 and the Black Lowriders Association car show in National City that emphasized community, brotherhood and unity on June 19.
Lowriders demonstrate unity, culture and struggle
The Black Lowriders Association of San Diego, United Lowrider Coalition and several other small businesses and community organizations, including the Party for Socialism and Liberation, G Entertainment and TWEEN SWAG attended the Juneteenth unity car show and picnic at the Willie Henderson Sports Complex in National City. At the park, candy paint jobs and chrome sparkled as families walked through admiring the artistry and culture. Pan-African and Juneteenth flags and banners were prominently displayed throughout the complex.
The BLA started a year and a half ago, when Donnie Taylor and Mark Forte wanted to bring back the lowrider culture that was criminalized in the 1990s. In 1992 National City passed an ordinance prohibiting cruising and in 1994 the ordinance was amended to allow for impound and arrest.
The ULC is fighting back to repeal the ordinance. The coalition is made up of various lowrider car clubs including the BLA, Diego Style, Unique Ladies San Diego Car Club (which is an all-woman club), and the San Diego Chapter of Impalas Car Club.
Lowriding is an integral part of California and Chicano culture. Discrimination against cruising events has gone on for decades. While the ordinance of 1992 was suspended in May, and a 6-month trial period allowed for the first permitted cruise night on Highland Ave in 30 years. “National City officials and the notoriously racist National City Police Department saw this as an opportunity to impose a hefty fee on future cruise organizers,” (Liberation News).
Liberation News spoke with Donnie Taylor, president of the BLA. Taylor explained how the NCPD wants to dip into their pockets and charge at least $8,000 for each cruise. National City officials want lowriders to pay for MTS to reroute their buses and pay Caltrans for road signage. All included, the price tag could balloon to $30,000 per event.
Taylor also pointed out that, “El Cajon, La Mesa, Escondido all have their cruise nights, and they don’t get harassed — and they have them every week.” This sentiment was echoed by many different community members, like Popeye, a member of BLA and the organizer of Sunday’s event, and Jesse and Tury of Diego Style, who all pointed out the absurdity of paying taxes in their community and then being charged $30,000 to drive down their own streets.
The unity car show brought together other members of the community, too. G Entertainment works with other leaders, local youth, as well as formerly and currently incarcerated members of the community to reduce gun violence. TWEEN SWAG, another organization supporting the event, helps deal with the mental health fallout of gun violence. Lowriders are very much a part of the National City community and a racist ban on cruising won’t change that.
Juneteenth in north San Diego County
Celebrations were held across the county, including in Oceanside, where the North San Diego County NAACP hosted a community celebration. The event was held off California’s Highway 1 and around 300 people attended to see live music and student award ceremonies. Games were held for the kids while the crowd milled around art and social outreach booths.
Liberation News sat down with Angela Jackson from the North County LGBTQ Resource Center. Jackson said she was “pleased to be here representing the North County LGBTQ Resource Center for their first Juneteenth celebration in Oceanside.”
At the various Juneteenth events held around the county, participants were clear that recognizing and celebrating the strides made towards Black liberation is important, but so is continuing the fight for freedom from racist oppression.