Juneteenth Celebration Held at J.P. Johnson Park

Published 11:01 pm Monday, June 17, 2024

J.P. Johnson Park was abuzz with activity on Saturday as the community came together to celebrate Juneteenth. Organized by the Juneteenth Committee, the event marked its third year under the leadership of committee president Sherry Young.

Inspired by her son’s enthusiasm for Juneteenth celebrations, Young initiated the event in Picayune to create a local tradition. She expressed her hopes of integrating the celebration into the national Juneteenth organization to expand its reach and impact.

“This celebration is about more than just commemorating the emancipation of enslaved people,” Young said. “It’s about community, culture, and pride in our heritage. We aim to inspire the youth to embrace who they are and to be proud of their roots.”

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The celebration featured a variety of vendors from local businesses and state and national organizations offering their services. Music and entertainment were abundant, highlighted by a performance from dancers of the First Cornerstone Church.

“Our goal is to bring people together and ensure everyone has a great time,” Young added. “Juneteenth is a time for us to unite, celebrate our culture, and look forward to a brighter future.”

Those who attended the event included Mayor Jim Luke, Councilman Larry Breland, and Supervisor Donald Hart.

Juneteenth, observed annually on June 19, commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. The holiday marks the day in 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had legally freed enslaved people in the Southern states.

The name “Juneteenth” is a blend of “June” and “nineteenth,” reflecting the date of this historic event. Over the years, Juneteenth has evolved into a broader celebration of African American culture, heritage, and achievements.

Celebrations typically include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, historical reenactments, cultural performances, music, parades, and community gatherings. It is a day to honor African Americans’ resilience and contributions and reflect on the ongoing struggles for racial equality and justice.

In 2021, Juneteenth was officially recognized as a federal holiday in the United States, further cementing its significance as a national day of reflection and celebration. The holiday reminds us of the importance of freedom and the enduring fight for civil rights.