Juneteenth: A Day of Remembrance Around the Nation

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Source: Eventbrite

It’s the oldest un-recognized observance in the nation today. “It really is our 4th of July Independence day and I just learned about it three years ago,” said Tequila Hall a 30ish African American woman from Bay St. Louis Mississippi. “We were not taught about Juneteenth in American history in grade school, explained Hall.

Hall is one of about 50 people who turned out for a recent Pre-Juneteenth celebration and educational forum. The event held earlier this month was sponsored by the Hancock County Mississippi NAACP.

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Juneteenth, is also known as Freedom Day. “It’s a holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas, and the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South,” said Event Guest Speaker Raymunda Barnes.

Photo by: Al Showers
Keynote Speaker: Raymunda Barnes delivers Juneteenth lesson to a crowd eager to learn more.

Barnes is Assistant Vice President of Pearl River Community College in Waveland Mississippi. He told the crowd gathered in a church community hall in Bay St. Louis, “It’s really a celebration of historic relevance. Juneteenth is black Independence day .”

Barnes said the Juneteenth observance was birthed in Texas. The significance there is Slaves in Texas didn’t receive word they had been freed until more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862.

Lincoln’s proclamation was to become effective January 1, 1863.

In the early 20th century, economic and political forces led to a decline in Juneteenth celebrations. From 1890 to 1908, Texas and all former Confederate states passed new constitutions or amendments that effectively disenfranchised blacks, excluding them from the political process.

White-dominated state legislatures passed Jim Crow laws imposing second-class status for African Americans. The Great Depression forced many blacks off farms and into the cities to find work. In these urban environments, African Americans had difficulty taking the day off to celebrate.

Texas and Oklahoma are the only two states that recognize Juneteenth as a legal holiday.
But more than 200 cities across the nation celebrate Juneteenth in some way, ranging from daylong festivals to even longer events.

“We need to remember our history and educate our youth about what the Juneteenth holiday is all about,” said Gregory Barabino President of the Hancock County Mississippi NAACP. “The educational forum the NAACP is hosting this evening is designed to do just that,” explained Barabino.

Photo by: Stacey Cato
Hancock County’s NAACP President, Greg Barabino, poses for a picture with event disk jockeys at a pre- Juneteenth celebration earlier this month.

The official Juneteenth observance will be held across the nation on June 19th. An organization known as “The Helping Hands” will team up with the Hancock County NAACP to put on a Juneteenth celebration at Martin Luther King Park in Waveland, Mississippi Saturday June 17th. Organizer Clarence Harris said, “It will basically be a fun day for the family and an opportunity to meet local African American business owners.”

Harris said in addition to contemporary and gospel music there will be food and fun activities for children.

Juneteenth celebrations will also be held Saturday in Biloxi, Mississippi at John Henry Beck Park on Division Street. It will feature a basketball tournament, a poetry contest and live music.

In Gulfport, Mississippi at the Good Deeds Community Center on Madison Street the celebration will include a Juneteenth Fashion and Entertainment show labeled “Black & White.”

Al Showers
Al Showers III is a veteran broadcast journalist with nearly 40-years in the TV news business.Showers began his career writing for his campus newspaper at S.D. Bishop State College in Mobile Alabama. He continued his higher education at William Carey University in Gulfport, Mississippi majoring in Journalism and minoring in Public Relations.Showers is the son of a career military man in the U.S. Air Force which allowed Al to grow up in several different Countries, U.S. Territories and U.S. States including Canada, Guam , Maine , Vermont ,Rapid City South Dakota, Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Carolina and Mississippi. He currently calls Bay St. Louis Mississippi home.Showers is an Emmy Award Winning Newscast Producer and has produced hundreds of newscasts anchored by now ABC Good Morning America Anchor-Woman, Robin Roberts.Al was also part of the news team to bring home the highest award given to a journalist, the prestigious Edward R.Marrow Award.Al loves the outdoors, hunting, fishing , camping and gardening and often brags about his green thumb.