DeKalb NAACP members can sign up now with team NAACP DeKalb Freedom Fighters for the June 16 “I Am a Father 5K Run/Walk” in Decatur.

The DeKalb NAACP is partnering for the second time with organizers of the annual race event, as part of Juneteenth celebrations.

Registered runners and walkers will start the race at 8:30 a.m. at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts and Community Center in Decatur.

The 5-kilometer race will end at 12 p.m. and be followed by a Juneteenth celebration of food, music and entertainment at the community center, at 3181 Rainbow Drive, finishing at 2 p.m.

There will also be vendors focusing on health, education, self-awareness and self-improvement; and workshops on supporting black businesses, home ownership, and credit repair.

DeKalb NAACP President Teresa Hardy is encouraging all members to enter the race under the organization’s Freedom Fighters team, and to participate in the Juneteenth festivities afterward.

“We welcome all DeKalb County residents, as well as friends, family and associates of DeKalb residents, to attend this historic event,” Hardy said May 15.

She’s expecting more than 20 members to participate in the Freedom Fighters race team, and said more than 20 vendors have already registered for the Juneteenth festival.

Hardy is expecting more than 500 people to attend the combined celebration.

“We are excited to be partnering with the 'I Am a Father 5K Run/Walk,” she said. “Both events are well needed for strengthening families in our community by providing pertinent information on quality of life needs such as health, housing and economic sustainability.”

Hardy says the DeKalb NAACP wants community members to have self-awareness, self-determination and self-improvement in the areas of health, African-American culture, homeownership, credit readiness and economic sustainability.

Admission to DeKalb’s “A Celebration of Freedom” Juneteenth event is free; however, registration for the walk/run is $25 for each member of a team of five or more, or $30 per individual. There is also a $10 “Tot Trot” option for families.

The annual I Am a Father 5K Run/Walk began in 2015 and celebrates fathers the Saturday before Father’s Day, while promoting health and wellness, organ donation and community bonding.

Proceeds from the race are distributed to organizations throughout metro Atlanta that help youth and show them the power of male involvement.

Last year funds went to Let Us Make Man and the Leadership Academy of the DeKalb County chapter of the 100 Black Men of America.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Word of emancipation didn't reach the slaves in Galveston, Texas, until June 19, 1865, when an army of 2,000 Union soldiers, led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, arrived and informed them of their freedom.

The slaves were so elated that they broke out in a celebration now known as Juneteenth.

Since then, the observance of Juneteenth has spread across the United States and beyond with a range of activities such as festivals, parades, barbecues and rodeos.

For more information about the DeKalb race and festivities contact the DeKalb NAACP at 404-241-8006 or naacpdek@comcast.net, or visit https://www.raceentry.com/races/i-am-a-father-5k-race-atlanta/2018/register.