Valdosta Daily Times

June 17, 2013

Juneteenth’s coming

Preparations under way for celebration

Quinten Plummer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Held in just as high a regard as the celebration of our country’s independence to many, the county’s annual Juneteenth dinner returns this Tuesday at 7 p.m. for its 21st year and will offer citizens of all races with a central point to celebrate human rights.

The evening will move to the music of a mass choir that will consist of choruses from Saint Paul AME Church, Church at Pine Hill, Union Cathedral and other churches, according to Juneteenth committee President Beverly Blake. Performances by Poetic Magic and keynotes from Volious Smith will cap the evening, all of which Blake said she hopes will keep awareness on a day that’s overlooked too often.

“Juneteenth is the day that this part of the country was notified that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed by President Abraham Lincoln,” said Blake. “It announced that slavery had been abolished, but it took two and a half years to make it to this area of the country.”

The celebration continues this Saturday with a Community Awareness Day at the Lowndes County Courthouse Square, according to Blake. Like the Juneteenth celebration, Saturday’s events are open to the general public.

“We’ll start the day with a 5k walk and run, which is being sponsored by Serenity Christian Church. They have a new physical fitness initiative that they’re launching,” said Blake. “We’ll talk about services that are available to community members during the community awareness fair at the courthouse. We’ll have theatrical performances, for example, J.L. Newbern’s drama department will hold a show for us along with others. We’ll have singers and praise dancers.”

The Juneteenth Dinner start Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. at Mathis City Auditorium and, according to Blake, the celebration continues Saturday at the Courthouse at 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.