Unity in the Community

Published 4:21 pm Monday, June 17, 2024

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What a glorious Juneteenth weekend the City of Washington provided for everyone to enjoy. A very special and heartfelt thank you to all who helped put this amazing event together.

From 10:00 in the morning until 8:00 in the evening, from one end of Washington to the other, this city excelled in Juneteenth events. Many cities in eastern North Carolina hosted outstanding Juneteenth events, but in my humble opinion, Washington excelled them all. The months of planning it took to produce such a fine event paid off in great harvest of unity, education, tourism and fun.

All day Saturday all over Washington there were big crowds of locals and visitors alike taking in all the festivities. In the evening, music filled the streets and neighborhoods from the concert in Beebe Park. Some visitors even thought the amazing ‘Cat Head Biscuit Band’ preforming at Pitt Street Brewery and the music coming from the roof of the Mulberry House Restaurant were all part of the Juneteenth planning.
It was my pleasure to share with them the events in Beebe and P. S. Jones Memorial Parks so they could experience all Washington had to offer.

Those visiting Washington for Father’s Day weekend found a host of fun and educational things to do that the Juneteenth experience provided. Everyone seemed to enjoy the parade. I got to see some of it from the special Juneteenth River Roving boat tours hosted by the N C Estuarium. There were visitors on those boat tours from eight states, and six NC counties. One special guest was a young student visiting from Italy. I was truly grateful she joined the boat tour along with four boats full of guests and got to experienced Washington’s Unity in the Community from another unique viewpoint, our beautiful and historic Pamlico-Tar River.

I am a research historian for Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s Building Integrated Communities Initiative, so I did not make it to all the fantastic events at Beebe and P. S. Jones Memorial Park on Saturday. I had to work and part of that work was to provide the educational/historical component of why Juneteenth is so important, and what the underground railroad meant to Latinos who used it to gain their freedom.

Juneteenth is more than just parades, games, food, entertainment and fun. It is truly the celebration of freedom and understanding what it took to gain that freedom. I was honored to provide some of Washington’s awesome African American history on the boat and trolley tours that highlighted that history.

Sunday evening rounded out the grand event with a wonderful Gospel Concert. To God be the glory!

My word count will not allow me to name all the organization, sponsors, various groups and team members who pulled together to help make the Juneteenth 2024 such an outstanding success but thank you to ALL who made Washington shine!

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