Iowans of African heritage are celebrating their culture and community this week as part of Juneteenth — which marks the freeing of slaves in Texas in June of 1865. Minnie Mallard, one of Iowa’s Juneteenth organizers, says the events commemorate freedom by emphasizing education and achievement. One event honors longtime married couples. The new Juneteenth king and queen were crowned over the weekend, William and Edith Sharp of Des Moines, who’ve been married 52 years. The outgoing king and queen had been married 70 years. Mallard says this is a time of reflection, rejoicing, assessment, self-improvement and planning for the future. She says each day of the week has a different theme. Mallard says they focus on things like education, health and church. She says the celebration also highlights, promotes and encourages cooperative relations among all cultural communities in Iowa. Mallard says the big day is Saturday, June 18th. The finale day will feature social and community groups gathering to sponsor entertainment from gospel music to storytelling and other events like cutest baby smile. Observances are being held in several Iowa communities this week, including Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Council Bluffs, Sioux City and Waterloo. For more information, surf to “”.