Juneteenth Celebration marks historic event

Christian Holden, 23 months, of St. Stephen plays along with drummers at the 16th annual Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday at the Jenkins Institute in North Charleston.

Paul Zoeller

On June 19, 1865, slaves in Galveston, Texas, found out they were free even though the Emancipation Proclamation was issued more than two years prior.

Slaveholders in Texas were slow to communicate the news that their slaves were free because they didn’t want to acknowledge the Emancipation.

This group is said to be the last group of slaves to celebrate their emancipation, and nearly 150 years later their freedom is still cause for jubilation.

The 16th annual Juneteenth Celebration, sponsored by the Lowcountry, Juneteenth Association was held Saturday at the Jenkins Institute in North Charleston.

“This is a time for assessment, self-improvement and planning for the future,” said Charleston County Councilwoman Anna Johnson of James Island.

The crowd joined with Ashanti Ford to sing James Weldon Johnson’s Negro National Anthem. “Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us. Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,” they sang in unison.

Damon Fordham, a professor at Virginia College, said this is a time to educate ourselves and uplift younger generations. Fordham urged guests to not dwell on the negative when it comes to young people, but “encourage them to go where they could be.”

The celebration was full of entertainment such as church choirs, praise dancers, African drummers and soloists.

The proclamation applied only to the 10 Confederate states that seceded from the Union. It wasn’t until the 13th Amendment, adopted on Dec. 6, 1865, that slavery was abolished in the United States.

South Carolina was the 28th of 42 states to adopt permanent recognition of Juneteenth.