An annual celebration of freedom is moving to the downtown square in Jacksonville this month.
The Jacksonville Chapter of the NAACP will be hosting the 2022 Juneteenth celebration Saturday, June 18th. The event will kick off at 11:00 am with a dedication of the new Dr. Alonzo Kinniebrew mural on the east side of Lincoln Land Community College.
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. It was on June 19th, 1865 when Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston Texas with news the war had ended and that the enslaved people there were free.
President of the Jacksonville NAACP Chapter, Polly Williams says the date of June 19th holds a very special place in American history. “This was two and a half years after Lincoln’s emancipation, so this was really the beginning of the freedom of slaves. They could move up north and they could go where they wanted and felt that they were really free.”
Williams says even though the Juneteenth holiday falls on Sunday this year, organizers decided to hold it on Saturday the 18th in order to avoid conflicting with church services and Father’s Day.
The celebration will run from 11:00 to 3:00 Saturday afternoon in downtown Jacksonville, and Williams says the businesses downtown have been invited to participate in the celebration, which will have many different offerings for young and old alike. Such as vendors, food trucks, and entertainment like Jacksonville natives Robert Sampson and Eddie Baldwin.
Williams says there will also be a variety of service and community health and wellness service groups available. “I just wanted the community to be involved. Memorial [Health] is, the Rotary is helping us, JCIL, the Crisis Center, the Gateway Foundation. Memorial is also doing a screening tent for us. They are going to be screening for diabetes and distributing colon cancer screening kits.
We’re going to hand out free Covid kits and bags for Covid needs. Because this is going to be our last month that we are going to be able to help. We’ve done it for a year and a half. So we wanted the community to know that these are some resources that they can contact and go to.”
Representatives from the Jacksonville Area Food Bank and Spirit of Faith Soup Kitchen will also be attending. Williams says members of the Jacksonville NAACP will be available throughout the day to help anyone who needs direction for services.
Jacksonville Memorial Hospital is also sponsoring tee-shirts honoring Dr. Kinniebrew that will be available for purchase. The 2022 Jacksonville Juneteenth Celebration will be on the downtown square in Jacksonville on Saturday, June 18th from 11:00 to 3:00 pm.
Saturday will also see the grand opening of the Jacksonville African American History Museum. We will have more about Jacksonville’s newest museum soon.