The event’s been celebrated in Hancock County for more than a decade, but this year, it’s a federally recognized holiday.
- by Wendy Sullivan
This spirited celebration of freedom will include family activities, empowerment events and voter registration. Music, games, food and raffles are also planned. COVID vaccination information and appointment scheduling will be provided by Waveland Pharmacy.
Waveland Reading Buddies will also demonstrate their chess skills. They hope to expand their chess club by engaging friends in the game. Ashyri Paint Box will be hosting a free kids’ paint (while supplies last). Registration for this event begins at 11 am.
Juneteenth is usually celebrated on June 19 and has long been recognized nationally by the African American community. Historically, it’s been called many things through the years: Emancipation Day, Black Independence Day and Jubilee Day.
The holiday’s origin dates back to the Civil War. Although President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation legally freed enslaved people throughout the South, in most states, it wasn’t enforced until Union troops advanced. In Texas, the most Western of the slave states, people weren’t set free until Union general Gordon Granger proclaimed the “news” on June 19, 1865. The first celebration of the freedom took place the following year.
In Waveland, this is the 10th Juneteenth celebration hosted by the Helping Hands Community Organization. Clarence Harris, member of HHCO and coordinator of the event, explained that Cotilla Hall, a Waveland native who now lives in Las Vegas, founded the event. He remembered her urging him to learn more about the history of Juneteenth.
Mr. Harris said, “I’m thankful that she encouraged us to start this event. We look forward to more members of the larger community celebrating with us.”
This year’s celebration is particularly important as it comes after a year of isolation and disruption to daily life by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Harris stressed that this is a celebration for the “whole community.”
Now a federal holiday, Juneteenth is an opportunity to remind us that the work continues to end racial injustice. As our Pledge of Allegiance says, we are “One nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
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