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Juneteenth Celebration in Ashland

Juneteenth Celebration in Ashland

Charles Romans

The Ashland Beacon

A Juneteenth Celebration is coming in Ashland on June 14 in Broadway Square. The celebration is known by many names including Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, and Liberation Day, but regardless of the name used, Juneteenth is a day of remembrance as the day when the last slaves in the United States officially gained their freedom following the Emancipation Proclamation. This year will be the fourth year of the annual event, and will kick off at 6 p.m. and last until 9 p.m.

   Darrell Smith, the founder and curator of the CB Nuckolls Museum in Ashland, spoke about the importance of Juneteenth to not only the freed slaves and their descendants, but to the entire country as well. “When slavery ended with the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, slavery didn’t immediately end,” Smith said. 

It would be two years before all slaves in the United States were finally freed. Smith continued, “Two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Major General Gordon Granger ordered the final enforcement of that proclamation in Texas on June 19, 1865.” Smith said that the Union Army’s progression through Texas was slow, and slave owners took advantage of the protracted progression and did not release their slaves until forced to do so. “These were the last group of slaves to be freed,” Smith said. “Which is truly sad,” he said, and was a dark punctuation to a truly dark time in American history.

   The last freed slaves celebrated the day as ‘Juneteenth’ and the day considered by many to be the second Independence Day in the United States. Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. It is the first new federal holiday since 1983 when Martin Luther King Jr. Day was adopted.

   Although it has been celebrated in the African American community since the original Juneteenth, Smith said that even today it is a holiday of which many are not familar. Events such as the one being held in Ashland and around the country are working to change that, he said. Smith explained that Juneteenth is not only Black History – it is everyone’s History. It is celebrating the end of a sad period in history, but it is also celebrating a triumph for humanity. “And with everything going on in the world today, we need to focus on our humanity,” Smith expressed.

   The event will be hosted by local organizations Ashland for Change, CB Nuckolls Community Center & Black History Museum, the Boyd and Greenup County Branches of the NAACP, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, Christ Temple Church, Christ Center Ministries, United Way of Northeast Kentucky, and Ashland Community and Technical College. 

   The festivities will include live music from Christ Temple Church and 4YLP Band - For Your Listening Pleasure. Food and drinks will also be available and include vendors Rise and Grind, Thunder Wheels and T&C Fresh Squeezed Lemonade, as well as T-shirts and face painting. Come enjoy an evening with your family and the community. 

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