Juneteenth celebration commemorates ending of slavery

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 13, 2003

The Slavery and Civil War Museum will host its third annual Juneteenth celebration Saturday, June 21.

Juneteenth, officially observed on June 19, commemorates the date in 1865 that African-American slaves in Galveston, Texas, were told they were free. Although the Civil War ended in April 1865 at Appomattox, because of the distances involved and the lack of timely communications they were the last to receive the news of emancipation.

She noted that every state now has some sort of Juneteenth observance. In 20 states it’s an official state holiday.

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In Selma, this year’s celebration will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Memorial Park, at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and will feature a variety of activities. The theme is &uot;How We Got Over.&uot;

A number of local churches will conduct 30-minute presentations as part of the camp meeting format. The presentations will feature testimony, song and food.

Food, in fact, will play an intricate part in the celebration.

While Juneteenth celebrates a specific event in American history, in a larger sense it is also a time for assessment, self-improvement and planning for the future. Donaldson said it also serves as an education tool.

In addition to plenty of food, there will be quilting and other crafts exhibits and lots of singing. A number of church choirs will be on hand, as will an old-time blues band. The R&B group Exyt will perform on the park stage.

In case of rain a modified celebration will be held at the Slavery and Civil War Museum on Water Avenue.