A historic national event will be celebrated in downtown Great Bend Saturday as Myers Chapel presents Juneteenth 2018.
Juneteenth originated at the end of the Civil War as a celebration of Emancipation Day. The local event celebrates “life, love and community,” and will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Barton County Courthouse square.
It will feature music, dancers and all sorts of fun activities.
Darrell Pope, president of the Hutchinson branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, will be the keynote speaker, according to Thelma Russi, one of the organizers of the event.
There will be food, a drill team and young leaders, arts and crafts, storytellers, poets, children’s activities, talent performers, a cake walk and sales booths, according to Bernice Gray, who is also one of the organizers.
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States, according to juneteenth.com and nationaljuneteenth.com. It was on June 19, 1865, that Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863.
Juneteenth is an opportunity for people to celebrate freedom, history, heritage and culture.
Today, Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future.