Juneteenth commemorates the 1863 signing of the Emancipation Proclamation which freed the slaves was one newsworthy event that went unnoticed for two years. The news of the ending of slavery however did not reach Texans until two years late on June 19, 1865. Black Texans were still in the throes of slavery, as blacks around the country had been emancipated and were constructing towns, attending HBCU’s, owning land and striving to create generational wealth for their families and future offspring. Galveston, Texas was the root of the 1865 freedom day which began the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day to be celebrated throughout the United States.
On the First Coast, Juneteenth celebrations took place throughout the city to commemorate African American achievements and success. The annual Melanin Market held on the eastside was the location where thousands of supporters perused Black owned vendor booths, witnessed a reenactment of the days of pharaoh and a concert featuring local artist 69 Boyz and 95 South.
Deep on the Northside near 295, Champ7 Pro Wrestling organization held their Juneteenth annual event with a wrestling match and awarded the Gospel Heritage award to community volunteer Betty Brown. The Republican National Committee (RNC) presented their inaugural 1865 Freedom Republican Year (F.R.Y.) event on the Westside inside their community center with a community fish fry that included representatives from the city council, a DJ and giveaways. Rounding out the city’s events was the second annual Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant held at the Ritz Theater and LaVilla Museum before an enthusiastic audience of family, friends, and Juneteenth celebrants for a cultural pageant steeped in the African American experience. Jacksonville Beach was not left out of the festivities. The Move for Change 5k Day at Seawalk Pavilion was back this year to influence wellness and health and honor black communities with celebrity performer and fundraiser to benefit the Jordan Davis Foundation, Riverside Turning Point, and Better Dads Society. Jacksonville, Florida, one dubbed the ‘Bold New City of the South’ has made many strides since its Axe Handle Saturday days. Non-violent celebratory weekends such as Juneteenth continue to educate and prepare citizens to unite and recognize the struggles for freedom is not over yet.