/ Modified jun 19, 2023 4:17 p.m.

Sierra Vista Celebrates Juneteenth

The 8th annual event was hosted by the Sierra Vista African American Community Coalition

McFalls & NuRadina 1 Founder of the Sierra Vista African American Community Coalition Allyne McFalls or "Queen A" (right, center) and Priestess Yogini NuRadina (left) dance to the tunes of the band TUNESMITH during Juneteenth celebrations on Monday. June 19, 2023.
Summer Hom, AZPM

The Sierra Vista African American Community Coalition hosted its eighth annual Juneteenth Black Business Market event at the Rothery Educational Service Center yesterday.

The Rothery was bustling. Attendees visited an array of booths selling clothing and jewelry and others danced amid a backdrop of jazz, blues and rock ‘n roll.

Founder of the Sierra Vista African American Community Coalition Allyne McFalls, also known as "Queen A," says she hosted the event in order to bring the community together to celebrate Juneteenth — the now federal holiday to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans.

“Here in Sierra Vista, everybody that comes here to the community, you know, who are African Americans are like ‘okay, where are we at?’ ‘Where are we represented at?’" McFalls said. "We're kinda in a cubbyhole, because we're so close to the Fort (Huachuca), and a lot of us are interracial, you know, marriage and all that, blended families. So, when you see us, we're not, just, one culture grouped together. So, I said 'Hmm... Well, everybody wants to know where everybody is at, so let's have a celebration ...

As I get knowledge about my culture and the different celebrations that we have, then I’m like ‘okay, Tucson is doing it, Phoenix is doing it, so let’s have it down here in Sierra Vista,” she continued.

The US Census puts Sierra Vista’s Black population at less than 8% of the city’s estimated 45,439 residents.

The Rothery cafeteria and stage featured about 10 booths of vendors and community organizations, a drum battle, a Double-Dutch competition, basketball tournament, Nigerian food, and musical performances by TUNESMITH.

The day also featured a balloon release to encourage attendees to honor their ancestors.

"What we're going to do this year is allow people to put their loved-ones' names, that've gone on, and put it on the balloon, and then, we're going to go to the flagpole and have them released," said McFalls.

McFalls also noted that the Black Business Market gives Black artisans and businesspeople alike the opportunity to showcase their crafts and services.

“And just to let others know that we as Blacks, African Americans, we are in the market," said McFalls. "And I like to see what we have to offer.”

While the event was filled with celebration and music, there was also a Mardi Gras-styled celebration of life for McFalls' brother George Granderson Howard Jr.

Queen A said the heart of the is about bringing the community together to share and celebrate their cultures.

“It’s very important for us to be able to celebrate our own cultures in our own ways," she said. "So everybody else is doing it, and I see everybody leaving Sierra Vista to celebrate. But now, they can be home and celebrate.”

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