Juneteenth celebration Saturday at Civic Center

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 17, 2005

DEMOPOLIS-The Classy Senior Citizens of Demopolis will host the eighth annual Juneteenth Celebration this Saturday, This event commemorates the 142 anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 140 anniversary of the first Juneteenth held in Texas.

The event will be held from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Demopolis Civic Center at 500 N. Commissioners Ave. in Demopolis.

Dorothy Dawson, who is helping to organize the event, said there was a lot of history behind the celebration.

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“We are doing this because every year in June we have a program to celebrate Juneteenth,” Dawson said. “We celebrate it because on June 19 of 1865 the last slave was freed in our country.”

Juneteenth is not just an Alabama celebration. Dawson said many states also have Juneteenth celebrations of their own. She added some celebrate it as a holiday, something she would like to see happen in her home state and the entire nation.

“This day is celebrated in many states around the country,” Dawson said. “In some states this is celebrated as a holiday and that is something we would like to see for Alabama too. We hope that one day it will be celebrated all over the country.”

Juneteenth will also host a very special guest. Dawson said Erma Bishop would be on hand to teach everyone more about this special day.

“Erma Bishop will talk about the history behind this special day,” Dawson said. “She will be our guest speaker and she will give us lots of details on why we celebrate. It should be very interesting.”

The program will include local musical talent, dance presentations, home cooked, southern-style food tasting, drawings for door prizes and cash prizes of $25, $50 and the Grand Prize of $100. For more information contact Dorothy Dawson at 289-3118.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that all slaves were now free. This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official Jan. 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.