FRANKLIN, TN (WSMV) - While Friday marked Juneteenth, a celebration in Williamson County was different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
June 19 is celebrated as the day Union Army general Gordon Granger rode into a remote part of Texas, announcing to enslaved people that they were free, months after the Civil War had ended,
The Historic McLemore House in Franklin was the focal point for the Juneteenth celebration for the past 15 years. The Historic McLemore House was owned by a former slave, who became a successful farmer.
W.S McLemore bought the Franklin property in 1866, where he later built this house at 11th Avenue North. So, it’s fitting that the Juneteenth celebration has been held here every year.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic changed all of that. The African American Heritage Society of Williamson County decided to make this year’s celebration virtual for safety reasons.
The 2020 celebration is being hosted instead on the Heritage Society’s Facebook page. To participate in the celebration, click here.
Visitors will find pictures, documents, and the role African Americans played in Middle Tennessee and the nation’s history.
“I think to be a part of something like is this even on a remote basis is pretty special,” Kristi Farrow, who is the Director of African, and African American History at the Battle of Franklin Trust, said.
Farrow said hosting the celebration on the web will draw more people, who are not familiar with the African American experience
“By reaching out to a larger audience, who don’t know the story, we tell, who don’t know the story at McLemore and the importance of it,” Farrow said. “It’s gonna be shared by one person than another, that’s important.”
Eric Jacobson, who is CEO of the Battle of Franklin Trust, said Junteenth, celebrates an important milestone in American history, that few people know anything about.
“There is no formal Emancipation Day in the U.S. Juneteenth has become like the defacto day,” Jacobson said. “It’s really a great opportunity for everyone not just the African American community, but for all of us to look back and realize, the Civil War was fought to end slavery.”
But there is at least one message embedded in celebrating Juneteenth.
“It makes you appreciate how far we have to go, to understand how far we’ve come,” Jacobson said.