A joyous Juneteenth

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 19, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

African drums shook Wallace Community College Selma’s Earl Goodwin Theatre Monday night as community members took their seats at the conclusion of Selma’s Juneteenth Jubilee Celebration Monday night.

The Rev. Franklin and Mrs. Malika Fortier served as the event’s emcees, welcoming the audience with “peace and blessings” and interpreting Juneteenth, a nationally observed holiday, as “a Fourth of July for us” – the day the last U.S. slaves were set free on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas.

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“(This celebration) is a gift of love and a gift to our ancestors and it’s a time to remember,” Franklin said.

An event aspiring to educate and inspire, audience members were given pamphlets reviewing the history of Juneteenth and the emancipation of slaves worldwide.

While reading the historical literature, the audience was further entertained by the “drum talk” of World Ethiopian Federation, Inc. and two praise dancing groups – Drop Zone and the “Dance With Joy” Dance Company. All performers earned loud applause as they drummed and gracefully glided across the wooden stage.

Despite low attendance, the event was a joyous celebration for all involved.

“Just because this place isn’t full tonight, please don’t let this stop you from having a great time,” said Jerria Martin, Miss Jubilee 2006 and a recent graduate of Selma High School.

As Martin gave an overview of the Juneteenth celebration and the strides blacks have made since 1865, she noted all cultures still have a long way to go before accepting one another as equals.

“Although we’ve made great progress, we still live in a color-conscious society,” she said.