A Moving First Annual Juneteenth Program
Today, Residents and Little Sisters gathered in the auditorium for a very special Juneteenth program planned by the activities team. Originally intended as an outdoor block party to regale the Residents with history, music, and refreshments, the event was moved indoors due to poor air quality. Happily, the hotdogs, popcorn, and lemonade conveyed, adding to the festive atmosphere.
Courtney Stafford, a friend of the Home, sang beautiful renditions of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and a medley of “Over My Head” and “Swing Low.” Everyone so enjoyed her singing, and she was asked to sing several more songs.
Anna Jordan, our administrative coordinator, shared the History of Juneteenth. “Juneteenth,” Anna explained, “marks the day in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take control of the state and free enslaved black people held in the Confederacy, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation!”
Juneteenth, or “Freedom Day” is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. This holiday is considered the “longest running African-American holiday” and has been called “America’s second Independence Day.”
The symbolism of Juneteenth is the transition from slavery to freedom, and several Residents shared moving stories of their families from the south in the time after slavery.
This is the third year since the holiday was given federal status by President Biden in 2021.
Celebrations of Juneteenth include many traditions from public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, and the singing of traditional songs, to reading the works of noted African American writers. Celebrations can also take the form of rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties, historical reenactments, and Miss Juneteenth contests.
“This is our first annual Juneteenth celebration,” said Francine Whitley, our director of activities. “We were so happy to be able to educate, enlighten, and celebrate with everyone in attendance. We hope this is the first of many annual events.”
When we allow freedom to ring – when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.