Juneteenth in Jessamine Co.

Published 10:33 am Tuesday, June 21, 2022

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Jessamine County celebrated Juneteenth all weekend long.

Juneteenth commemorates the occasion when on June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and 2,000 Union troops marched into Galveston,Texas, to announce that all enslaved African American people were free. According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Juneteenth, as the day came to be known,”our country’s second independence day”. In Texas, African Americans have celebrated Juneteenth since 1866. It became an official Texas holiday in 1979 and became a federal holiday last year.

On Friday, the Gospel World Missionary Church worked with several local organizations to host a celebration at Clint Hayden Park.

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“This event is to celebrate Juneteenth Freedom Day for our kids and our teens, for them to be educated, for them to be engaged, for them to be entertained and for them to enjoy the day.” Anna Kenion, the event’s organizer said. “The more ways that we can get together and have fun and be engaged and entertained and educated, that’s the main purpose.”

The event started at Gospel Word Missionary Church, who received a grant from Save the Children, with the goal of ensuring that the retention level of  African American students would be up to grade level up. The church decided to give out free books and provide food.  Soon local organization after local organization began to contribute to the festivities.

“This is a way to get the whole community involved, and also get a little educated because we’re going to have some activities that will give more education about the event itself,” Pastor Daniel Lee with Marble Creek Missionary Baptist Church said.

The Jessamine County Public Library had a station where the Jessamine Events Mobile was parked. There was an interactive story walk, a make a freedom quilt square station and other interactive events for kids.

“We have an interactive story walk where you can read some of the history of Juneteenth, where the celebration started. We have a craft where we’re all working together to make a freedom quilt that’s going to be displayed in the library after this event. So each person can make a freedom quilt square … so lots of interactive fun things for the whole family,” JCPL representative Kate Irwin  said.

The Early Learning Village had a station with a prize wheel for kids where they could win goodies and  receive a lei to wear.

“It’s an opportunity for all of us to come together and come together and just celebrate the diversity that is in Jessamine County, and the diversity that’s in our school system,” said Debbie Cumbie, the Family Resource Coordinator at the Early Learning Village

Camp Nelson National Cemetery also had a station.

“Camp Nelson existed during the Civil War, and obviously there’s the connection there between the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War itself. But Camp Nelson was a huge site of African American soldier recruitment and again another act of emancipating. People emancipated themselves by joining the army, they emancipated themselves from slavery by taking shelter at the camp, and empowered themselves to fight back against the institution by becoming soldiers.” said Camp Nelson Park Ranger Maureen Lavelle

On Saturday, Hervey Town Neighborhood Association held a Juneteenth celebration at Clint Hayden Park. The festivities began at 3:00 p.m., and the events included live performances, free food, a bounce house for children, and more.

“It’s all well worth it. So there’s more events, not just here and not just Juneteenth, but community wide,” Kenion said. “The library does an amazing job with doing community events, our health department does great things, and just as a community as a whole. Everybody works together to provide and the great thing is about the diverse types of events. That’s the great thing about Jessamine County.”