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JUNETEENTH Celebrated At Jenkins Institute For Children
6/26/2013 12:22:55 PM

Under a cloudy day, over 200 celebrated Juneteenth on the grounds of Jenkins Institute for Children. Shown are Marlon Kimpson, Rep. Seth Whipper, Damon Fordham and Rep. David Mack, III. Photo: Bobby Crawford

By Bob Small 

Over 200 people gathered at Jenkins Institute in North Charleston Saturday to celebrate Juneteenth, the day enslaved Africans in Texas learned of their freedom through the Emancipation Proclamation, two years after it was issued.

Locally the celebration was the 16th here and was sponsored by the Lowcountry Juneteenth Association. Association chairperson Ethel Taylor said it is important that people not forget that even after slavery was abolished there were African Americans in Texas being held in servitude.

Saturday’s celebration was held under threatening sky but that did not dampen the spirit of those in attendance. Judy Paisley of Charleston said she enjoyed listening to the speakers and entertainment and seeing what the vendors had for sale.

Charleston County Councilwoman Anna Johnson and historian/professor Damon Fordham were featured speakers and encouraged the crowd to be aware of the history and too support such events when they occur. Johnson called on the crowd to plan for the future. “We are the future, it is in our hands,” she said.

The crowd was treated to a powerful rendition of the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” led by Ashanti Ford.

Several groups sang and danced for those in attendance while African drumming waffled through the crowd.

Several local elected officials were on hand. They included Rep. Seth Whipper and Rep. David Mack III.

The first Juneteenth occurred when Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 troops converged on Galveston, Texas on June 18 to enforce emancipation laws freeing all enslaved Africans. Plantation owners had not informed the thousands on enslaved Africans of their new freedom in hopes of keeping the enslaved Africans working their plantations.

On June 19th, Granger read the document freeing all enslaved Africans to those who had assembled. He said that hence forth all enslaved Africans were now free. The announcement brought immediate celebration and every year since African Americans have celebrated Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day. Juneteenth is presently observed officially in 42 of the 50 states.

Initially the Emancipation Proclamation applied only to the Confederate state in 1863. In 1865 slavery was abolished in all of the United States. 

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