“Unity in the Community:” City announces Juneteenth festivities

Published 4:13 pm Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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“Unity in the Community” is the theme of this year’s Juneteenth celebration in Washington, which will take place on the weekend of June 16-17. “This event not only commemorates the end of slavery but also emphasizes our collective unity and cultural heritage through a variety of family-friendly activities and live entertainment,” said event co-chair Sarah Godley.

This year’s events kick off on June 15 at the historic Ware Creek School in Blounts Creek, the site of the first formally organized celebration of Juneteenth in the area in the 1980s. Most notably it is a Rosenwald School, which was the vision of Julius Rosenwald, philanthropist and president of Sears and Roebuck, and Booker T. Washington of the Tuskegee Institute. Hailed as one of the most important initiatives to advance black education, the schools were built specifically for African American children in the South. A home-cooked breakfast will be served from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm. There will also be performances by The United DrumLine from Aurora. “This is a great way to kick off our Juneteenth celebrations,” said city councilman Anthony Tyre. “It shows unity within our community and the county as a whole. It is always great to welcome folks to our main events held in Washington but reaching outward is important as well. This is really cool.”

The annual Freedom to Prosperity parade begins at 3:00 pm at the corners of Gladden and Main Streets by the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum. Led by this year’s Grand Marshal Emma Howard, a lifelong resident of Washington, the parade will make its way up Gladden Street, the Freedom to Prosperity Walking tour site, and culminate at Beebe Memorial Park. Mayor Donald Sadler will lead the welcome and opening ceremonies, which will include the introduction of Grand Marshal Emma Howard. There will be live performances throughout the afternoon by The Monterio Experience, the United Drum Line of Aurora, and local Step teams. There will also be lots of games, water slides, inflatables, informational Jumbotrons, and plenty of food for all of the celebrants. The 3 on 3 basketball challenge also returns pitting a team of police and firefighters against teams of kids. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place trophies will be awarded after the competition. Kona Ice tickets were also sent out to area schools. The first 100 kids on Saturday and Sunday who present a ticket will get a free Kona Ice. A shuttle bus will also be available for those wishing to partake in the guided Freedom to Prosperity Walking Tour, which will be narrated by P.S. Jones alum, Mr. James Smallwood. “A little of something for everyone regardless of age,” said Godley.

New this year will be an art show at the P.S. Jones Museum from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm. It will feature renowned North Carolina artist, Daysha Bullock, who designed the t-shirts for this years’ event, along with local artist 13-year-old Roemello Boston, who is a rising star, and Washington native and nationally recognized artist Tony Ward Sr., who won a Pfizer “Science Will Win” award in 2020. Transportation to and from Beebe Memorial Park will be provided.

On Sunday, June 16, Beebe Memorial Park will come alive once again with Gospel Fest, from 3:00 pm-7:30 pm. The gospel concert will feature Tammy Edwards and the Edwards Sisters. Other musical entertainment will be provided by Long John and the Silver Stars, Nate’s Anointed Angels, Elder Micheal Boykin, and James Barrett and The Golden Jubilees.

For more information visit the event’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/931925841769206/permalink/931925851769205.