Jacksonville Juneteenth Celebration Continues to Expand; Performances and Pageant Added

By Benjamin Cox on June 16, 2023 at 6:59am

Jacksonville’s Juneteenth Celebration is coming this Saturday.

Last year’s celebration was commemorated by the unveiling of the Dr. Alonzo Kinnebrew mural on the north side of the square.

Alberta Robinson of the Jacksonville NAACP says that last year’s celebration is actually a continuation of a long tradition of Juneteenth in the city: “It says second annual Juneteenth Celebration but it’s a continuation of a long Juneteenth history in Jacksonville, which started about 15-20 years ago. We decided last year that it would be nice to bring it back again to help celebrate Juneteenth, which I know most of you know is that Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States dating back to 1865. To us, this is our national holiday and we wanted to start re-commemorating it after the City of Jacksonville worked with the NAACP and put up a mural of Dr. Alonzo Kinnebrew last year. So, we felt like that would be a good time to start the Juneteenth celebration again, which I’m glad we did.”

This year’s celebration is this Saturday from 11AM-5PM on the Downtown Square. Robinson says there will be vendors and food trucks along with several special performances and events: “We are going to have a Mr. & Mrs. Juneteenth and Little Mr. & Mrs. Juneteenth pageant. The ages are 5-11 for Little Mr. & Mrs. and 11-17 for Mr. & Mrs. The money raised will go towards the children who of course will win a prize. Most kids when you are in a contest, you want to win a prize. The majority of the rest of the money will go towards our Eric Woods Memorial Scholarship Fund to help children for college. We will have that presentation for the Eric Woods Scholarships. I believe right now we are going to give away at least 2 scholarships, maybe 3, depending upon how many more applicants we receive. Our goal is to give out 3, but I know for sure, we will have two at this time.”

The Jacksonville Drum Line will perform and inspirational messages and an African Church service will be given by several area churches. Bus rides to and from the Jacksonville African American Museum will also be available for the duration of the celebration.

Commemorative t-shirts will also be available for purchase, with proceeds going towards next year’s Juneteenth Celebration.

The Jacksonville Fire Department is also expected to have fire trucks on hand for children to tour and ask questions. Several area organizations are also expected to attend and provide free information and giveaways.

For more information about the Juneteenth Celebration, please call 217-473-5911. If you have questions about the Juneteenth Pageant contact Regina or Darcella at 217-883-0660 or 217-883-7125.