Juneteenth set for today

Published 11:43 am Monday, June 23, 2008

DEMOPOLIS — The story of Juneteenth is a fascinating look back into the history of the United States and its “peculiar institution” of slavery.

“Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is an annual holiday or holiday observance in 26 states of the United States,” the online encyclopedia Wikipedia states. “Celebrated on June 19, it commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas. The holiday originated in Galveston, Texas.”

The Demopolis Public Library will observe Juneteenth with free food and live music tonight at 5:30 p.m. Blues artist Ace Jones will perform, and former district attorney Barrown Lankster will also speak.

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“I plan to share the experiences African-Americans have had in this country, from the ‘peculiar institution’ of slavery through the emancipation proclamation, the migration north all the way to today, when we have an African-American candidate as his party’s nominee for the presidency,” Lankster said.

Knowing the history of the black struggle could be a powerful tool, Lankster said.

“I really don’t think young people understand the magnitude of something like Barack Obama becoming the presidential nominee for the Democratic party,” he said. “All the old modes and modules have been thrown out. I don’t think young people understand the magnitude of the predicament African-Americans have been in. When you have someone who is identified as an African-American as a presidential nominee, that speaks volumes about where we have come from. It’s phenomenal.”

Today’s observance is not the only celebration of Juneteenth in the city. The Theo Ratliff Activity Center will host the annual Juneteenth Heritage Festival Saturday, June 21, from 6-8 p.m.