Juneteenth: A celebration of freedom

Published 11:30 am Thursday, June 30, 2022

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On Saturday, June 18, the Central High Museum commemorated its first Juneteenth celebration with an audience of more than 100 attending. The songs of praise presented by Pastor Derek Smith echoed the celebration of freedom. With the libation powerfully done by Professor L. Roi Boyd III, one felt that you were being called by our African forbearers to begin the celebration. The sounds of the African drums played by Khi Felder and his 12- year-old nephew rang with a rhythmic beat as the program participants marched in the processional with their African colors aglow.

Dr. Hezteine Foster explained the purpose of Juneteenth, which is the formal independence for all blacks from slavery. When President Abraham Lincoln had stated the slaves were to be set free under The Emancipation Proclamation in April 1863, the 250,000 slaves in Galveston, Texas did not know this, but their slavemasters did. They wanted to prolong the inevitable — having to let their free labor go. So Gen. Gordon Grainger a Union soldier, was commissioned to carry the news to Galveston to let the slaves there know they were free — all

of them. The performance of the skit “Juba Juba Jubilee” written, directed and narrated by Dr. Yemaja Jubilee, made you feel that you were there during that momentous occasion. With stellar castmembers Torian Jones, her young son, Professor L. Roi Boyd III, Khi Felder and Khi’s nephew, Dr. Jubilee explained in her powerful narration how our forbearers suffered the atrocities of slavery being treated like cattle that the slavemasters could bend to their will. The haunting and mesmerizing songs sung by Jones echoed the voices of African Americans plight of bondage that would soon give birth to freedom. Professor Boyd III’s portrayal of President Lincoln and General Grainger solidified the culmination of Juneteenth, which was ordained by God. Furthermore, the White Oak Grove youth gave a soulful song of praise that reinforces why we celebrate Juneteenth.

In addition, we heard from various community leaders about their careers and why they chose them. They encouraged the youth and older adults to follow their passion which could include entering a career that was represented at the celebration. Moreover, we were reminded to keep our faith in God and surround ourselves with the support of our family and caring friends. Also, these leaders offered their assistance if anyone needed it. The program ended with the Juneteenth song sung with power by Jones of why we as African Americans and as one nation under God celebrate the freedom which is Juneteenth.

The Central High Museum hopes the Juneteenth celebration will be commemorated each year and grow in attendance. As always, we invite you to bring your youth to events such as these and tour the museum so they can learn and appreciate the fight for freedom.

Judy Moore lives in Wylliesburg and can be reached at v5agabond2@gmail.com. She is a tour guide with the Central High Museum.