Juneteenth celebrations underway in Mid State

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 6:52 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - In 2021, Juneteenth became a federal holiday. In 2022, Nashville Mayor John Cooper signed an executive order recognizing Juneteenth as a paid metro holiday. Now people across the Midstate are celebrating our nation’s newest federal holiday, Juneteenth. It’s the celebration of freeing the last enslaved Black people.

June 19, 1865, marks the day when the last black slaves of the confederacy were freed in Texas. This happened two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation.

“From that point forward, slavery, as we knew it in its original form, was officially over,” said Dr. Rosevelt Noble, director of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center

For years, the black community has celebrated June 19. Kenya Payne from the Equity Alliance says she’s been celebrating Juneteenth for as long as she can remember

“It’s our freedom day, right. It’s the same love most Americans have for the Fourth of July, but this is our freedom day,” Payne said.

Dr. Noble is seeing more people acknowledge this celebration of freedom now that it’s a federal holiday. He hopes annual events like Vanderbilt’s Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom spread awareness of the social injustices the black community is working to overcome.

“One of the things we strive to do is continuously educate people on the fact that struggle isn’t over. 05; 57; 01 as much as it’s a celebration of freedom in terms of past freedom, it’s also a celebration of what we still have to accomplish,” Dr. Noble said.

“We have to acknowledge our past and history to build a better future, and I think it’s important, especially as black people, that we find moments where we can see pure joy. There’s so much that plagues the black community. We deserve time to enjoy being black and embrace our blackness,” said Payne.

Juneteenth celebrations will continue throughout the weekend. On Saturday, the Equity Alliance hosts a block party on Buchanan Street in North Nashville from 12:00 to 9:00.

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