Juneteenth: Celebrating freedom with fun, excitement, and positivity

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, June 13, 2023

A June celebration of freedom will be observed locally this weekend.

Freedom has come at different times in different ways for different people.

In July 1852, author and abolitionist Frederick Douglass asked, “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?” His own answer underscored the need for slaves to be set free — “I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelly to which he is the constant victim.”

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On Jan. 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, declaring all enslaved people in the Confederate States as legally free. The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution made freedom from slavery national law in 1865.

It was in June of that same year that more than 250,000 slaves in Texas found out they had been freed by law more than two years prior. The date of June 19, when Union troops arrived in the area and made the law known, became called “Juneteenth” and marks the day of freedom celebration still, 158 years later.

Since 2010, Mississippi has recognized June 19 as a state holiday. Commemoration of the day will be celebrated in Lincoln County on Saturday, June 17, this year.

“We are approaching a great day of fun and excitement in the name of the Juneteenth Celebration,” said Bishop Jerry Kelly Jr. “With so much negativity being highlighted in our community, we can sometimes become blind to the positive things right in front of us.”

Speaking on behalf of the Brookhaven/Lincoln County NAACP, Kelly said the organization’s goal is to “maintain our mission, which is to achieve equity, political rights and social inclusion by advancing policies and practices that expand human and civil rights, eliminate discrimination, and accelerate the well-being, education and economic security of black people and all persons of color.”

The celebration will be Saturday, June 17, with a noon parade beginning in front of the Lincoln County/Brookhaven Government Complex on South First Street. The parade entry fee is $10, which can be paid that day, and lineup will begin at 11 a.m.

The route will progress north from the courthouse to Main Street, turn right onto Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, and continue across East Monticello Street to end at the Dr. A. L. Lott Sportsplex on South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

The celebration will be at the sportsplex with “lots of family fun, music and live performances,” Kelly said.

For more information, email brookhavenlincolnnaacp@gmail.com or contact Brookhaven/Lincoln County NAACP Branch #5268 president Rev. Dr. Rico Cain.

“We would like to thank everyone who has played a part in the efforts of justice in our community — local church leaders, community leaders and governmental leaders,” Kelly said.