Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.
Dating to 1865, it was on June 19 that Union soldiers, led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free – 21/2 years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official Jan. 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new executive order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April 1865, and the arrival of Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.
Here in the Midlands, there are several events planned to mark Juneteenth. Among them:
JUNETEENTH CELEBRATION: 6 p.m. June 19 at Allen University’s Johnson Center, 2300 Taylor St. Keynote speaker James Small’s topic will be “Post Traumatic Slavery Syndrome.” Free and open to the public. Afrocentric attire is encouraged. (803) 600-2315
JUNETEENTH HISTORICAL OBSERVATION AND OLD-FASHIONED SOCIAL: 7 p.m. June 19 at the Harriet Barber House, 118 Barberville Loop (off Lower Richland Boulevard), Hopkins. (803) 261-5596; www.sercosc.org
JUNETEENTH CELEBRATION: 9 a.m. June 27 at Second Calvary Baptist Church, 1110 Mason Road. This year’s celebration is held in conjunction with “Waverly District: Civil War to Civil Rights,” part of the Burning of Columbia series of activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Civil rights presentations will be held 9:15-10 a.m. in Hinton Hall and will feature Sonya Hodges-Grantham, author and genealogist, speaking on Briggs v. Elliott, Brown v. Board of Education and the role of Waverly residents in the cases. Catherine Fleming Bruce will expand the little-known story of the Waverly District’s connection to the Civil War and civil rights periods – civil rights leaders James M. Hinton, John McCray and his wife, Carrie Allen McCray, Benedict College president Rev. John L. Starks and others. Allen University’s William S. Robinson will discuss Chappelle Auditorium as the work of black architect John Anderson Lankford. The event will include sessions on dating violence and healthy relationships, performances by Eric Mayweather and the Praise Dancers and a noon picnic on the church grounds. More information at burningofcolumbia.com
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