Today marks Juneteenth, and area groups will recognize the day’s significance with special programs.
Juneteenth is a day in remembrance of the last groups of enslaved people in Texas who finally got the word of their freedom on June 19, 1865 — 2 1/2 years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in 1863. True freedom came when the last group of slaves were freed in 1865 and could now celebrate their freedom together.
The Black Scranton Project will host a Juneteenth Jubilee today from 4 to 8 p.m. at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.
“This year’s Juneteenth celebration emphasizes not only the timeless themes of freedom and perseverance, but also recognizes the unprecedented times we are currently living through,” Black Scranton Project organizers wrote on the Facebook event page.
Organizers are urging attendees to wear masks, bring hand sanitizer and follow social distancing guidelines during the event.
In Schuykill County, the Martin Luther King Family Enrichment Center will hold a program Saturday, June 20, from 2 to 5 p.m. at The Roundhouse at Seventh Street and Laurel Boulevard, Pottsville.
“(Juneteenth is) the day all Americans were truly free,” said Lanique Golphin of Schuylkill Haven, public relations coordinator for the center. “We thought it best to bring the community together, especially during a time of racial tension around the world.”
The center is “excited to celebrate this special holiday with the community. To remember the contributions and freedom of the African and African American slaves,” Golphin said.
“So, we continue to carry this honorable tradition and invite the community to come on out and take part in the greatest part of our country — ‘Freedom,’ freedom for all who live in America no matter what.”
The MLK Family Enrichment Center will have guest speakers from local artists to artists from afar. From Schuylkill County, Shidae Johnson of Pottsville, will sing; and flutist Rev. Darnell Golphin, of Schuylkill Haven, will perform. Janelle Golphin, of Philadelphia, is event coordinator. She grew up in Schuylkill Haven and was one of the first children to be a part of the center in 1999. Janelle Golphin will recite poetry; and Ryan Martin, of Delaware, will deliver an address.
“It’s important to me because many people before me have sacrificed their lives and have used their voices for me to be where I am today. I owe it not only to my black brothers and sisters to be here but to our ancestors also,” Martin said.
The event will include food, music and entertainment for all ages and a 50/50 raffle, where the winner will be announced at the end of the program. Golphin said social distancing will be observed at the event because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Statewide, all Pennsylvania Department of Transportation driver license and photo centers, including its full-service center in Harrisburg, will be closed today in observance of Juneteenth National Freedom Day.
Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.