Beaufort County Juneteenth celebration planned
Published 10:39 am Friday, June 3, 2022
By CLARK CURTIS
Washington is gearing up for the inaugural Greater Beaufort County Historic Juneteenth Celebration on June 18-20. The three-day event marks the 157th anniversary of the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation to enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, announcing that all slaves in the United States were free. On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden, signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, which recognizes June 19 as a federal holiday.
Event organizer, Leesa Jones, executive director of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum, says this day is significant in many ways for people of color.
“Putting this event together has been very rewarding for me personally,” says Jones. “I feel it will showcase how much we all have in common, which is the desire to be free and enjoy the benefits of freedom. As we all come together to share and learn more about Juneteenth, we will better understand significant part it played in the history of our country and our community.”
The event will get underway the morning of June 18 at 11 a.m. on the steps of the First Presbyterian Church. This is of historical significance in that this is where the Emancipation Proclamation was first read in January of 1863. Washington Mayor Donald Sadler will read a proclamation officially declaring June 19 as Juneteenth Celebration Day in Washington. It will be followed by the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. The morning event will also include the reading of a poem written by John Randolph, who was enslaved in Washington at the time, by a direct ancestor of his, Naomi A. Randolph Hwesuhunu. In addition, there will be comments from city council members, the raising of the official Juneteenth flag, and the singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing. For more event information, visit the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum FB page or the City of Washington event page.
Jones says in organizing the event, she wanted to make sure it afforded the opportunity to
bring everyone together in the community.
“It is my hope as we celebrate together all of Beaufort County’s rich history and culture, the stronger and more united we will all become,” Jones said. “I also want to thank Yvonne Curtis, my event co-organizer, for all of her incredible work, and our event partners. Without them, none of this would have been possible.”
Event partners include:
The Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum, The City of Washington, The Hiram Lodge #11, First Bank, City of Washington Parks and Recreation, Washington Daily News, Arts of the Pamlico, Aurora Fossil Museum, The Bridge FM, Beaufort County Community College, Brown Library, (The) Estuarium, Freedom Art Camp (sponsored by Yvonne Curtis), Harbor District Market, Historic Bath Site, Historic Port of Washington Project, Inner Banks STEM Center, Mulberry House Restaurant, Pamlico Books, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Walking Tour, The Presbyterian Church, Ware Creek School, and The Beaufort County Traditional Music Association.
The Washington Waterfront Underground Museum shares the history of slavery and enslaved people seeking freedom in Washington and Beaufort County, NC. It is a National Park Service Underground Railroad-Network to Freedom site.