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Inaugural PA Tourism Office grants awarded to seven for Juneteenth celebrations

HARRISBURG, April 25 – The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus today joined the Wolf administration and the nonprofit Voices Underground in celebrating the inaugural awarding of Journeying Toward Freedom grants through the Pennsylvania Tourism Office, according to PLBC Chair and state Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila.

The inaugural awards will support Juneteenth celebrations across the commonwealth in 2022 for seven organizations.

“The importance of the awarding of these grants cannot be understated,” Bullock said. “The history of Juneteenth has been only recently officially recognized, but its historic cultural significance had been long celebrated by Black communities in Pennsylvania.

“In order to highlight – even amplify – the importance of this day and Black culture in Pennsylvania, it is critical that we support Juneteenth events statewide, invest in Black businesses and institutions, and target Black travelers in our ongoing tourism initiatives.”

Juneteenth celebrates the anniversary of the day in 1865 that news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Galveston, Texas, and enslaved African Americans became aware that they had been freed. In 2019, Gov. Tom Wolf declared June 19 of each year as Juneteenth National Freedom Day. Last year, President Joe Biden signed legislation recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

The Journeying Toward Freedom grant program was established by the Pennsylvania Tourism Office in partnership with Voices Underground as part of a commitment to seeing Pennsylvania become the nation’s leader in African American cultural heritage tourism and ensuring the stories of all Pennsylvanians are uplifted and heard.

Voices Underground is a Chester County-based organization with extensive experience in promoting African American cultural history. It is administering the 2022 Journeying Toward Freedom in partnership with the Pennsylvania Tourism Office.

The grants were awarded based on criteria that included historical significance, communications and marketing plans, educational outreach, volunteer resources and matching funds. The seven recipients of the 2022 Journeying Toward Freedom grants are:

  • Juneteenth Lehigh Valley, Lehigh Valley – $10,000.
  • NAACP Johnstown Branch, Johnstown – $4,000.
  • Sherman Theater, Monroe County – $15,000.
  • Stop The Violence, Pittsburgh – $15,000.
  • The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, State College – $15,000.
  • Welcome America Inc., Philadelphia – $15,000.
  • Young Professionals of Color, Harrisburg – $15,000.

The Pennsylvania Tourism Office is also investing $6.8 million in the promotion of diversity, equity and inclusion to capture a greater tourism market share and its approach to welcoming travelers to the commonwealth in a way that leaves a positive impact on the industry.

“The funding commitment from the tourism office is paramount to ensuring that travelers of all walks of life come to Pennsylvania and leave with an experience that is unmatched anywhere else,” Bullock said. “Black history in Pennsylvania is rich with stories, experiences and sites that should be shared all year long with travelers, truth-seekers and those who want to be educated about the American experience in its entirety.”

The Pennsylvania Tourism Office, housed within the Department of Community and Economic Development, is dedicated to inspiring travel to Pennsylvania. From iconic attractions to hidden gems, tourism in Pennsylvania helps support the state’s economy and creates jobs for local businesses – all while improving residents’ quality of life.

Information provided to TVL by:
Jean Allegrini
House Democratic Communications Office