Oh Juneteenth Part 2

Published 5:38 pm Monday, June 3, 2024

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I want to again thank the Washington Daily News for the opportunity to write my column. I am truly grateful for the opportunity as it has given me a chance to share Washington’s history with people throughout this country, and more to my surprise, people across the world. I learned recently that my column has been copied by local people and sent to people in places I would have never imagined. Some of the places were Great Britain, Italy and seven countries in Africa.

I was so surprised too, that many historians across the state have told me how much they have learned about Washington’s Black history from the column.

Now I am excited as Juneteenth will offer many more opportunities to learn and share more about Washington’s Black history.

The City of Washington, The Human Relations Council, many local organizations and businesses, museums, the Turnage Theater, and the Estuarium are planning to make Washington NC (and Beaufort County) the place to be on the Juneteenth weekend June 15-16.

Many NC towns and cities are planning awesome Juneteenth events and Washington will host an epic event. Two days of activities that include a parade, entertainment, music, food, boat rides, historic trolley and shuttle bus rides, games, concerts, storytelling, art contest, a special tribute to local black Revolutionary and Civil War Soldiers, wonderful community unity and fellowship and so much more.

There will be something for everyone, and the fun begins at 10 a.m. at the Turnage Theater in historic downtown Washington and the historic Rosenwald School in Aurora.

I have heard from so many people who have visited the museum the past few weeks say they will be back for the Juneteenth weekend. People are coming to Washington really seeking knowledge and to learn about Juneteenth and the history that made Juneteenth necessary. From what I can find through my extensive research, Washington is one of the few towns in the state to know where and when the first Emancipation events began in 1863. And while the first Juneteenth event was held in 1865, it appears that as much as entertainment, fun and games provide a wonderful time, now people are hungry to learn about its history.

The Juneteenth events reach far beyond Washington as Aurora (Saturday June 15 at 10 a.m.) and Belhaven, Wednesday June 19 beginning at 1 p.m.) are planning awesome events.

The Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum also will host a special event for children on Wednesday June 19 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. that will include a story time, arts and crafts, creating a ‘913 Days’ work of art using colored glass marbles to commemorate the 913 days it took for the news of the Emancipation Proclamation to reach Galveston Texas, a ‘cake walk’ and decorating a ‘Juneteenth Tree.’

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, during the Civil War. But it took two more years before the proclamation was read and enslaved people were freed in Galveston, Texas.
The proclamation also formally accepted Black men into the Union Army and Navy, “enabling the liberated to become liberators,” according to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Leesa Jones is a Washington native and the c-curator of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.