Column: Clanton Juneteenth celebration set

Published 11:21 am Friday, June 16, 2023

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By Elisabeth Altamirano-Smith | Community Columnist

A Juneteenth celebration will be held Monday, June 19 from 1-6:00 p.m. at E.M. Henry Park in Clanton.

Juneteenth is a federally recognized holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. Although President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, promising freedom to the slaves of the Southern states of the Confederacy, enforcement of the proclamation generally relied upon the advance of Union troops. Many of the enslaved African Americans, although technically freed by the proclamation were not advised of the emancipation and were kept enslaved for an additional two years. Juneteenth is the celebration of that freedom which came in 1865.

In 2018, the late Ryan Williams, a Chilton County resident, began sharing information about with local leaders about the celebration and its meaning, and Chilton County’s first Juneteenth celebration was initiated.

“This is an open invitation to everyone in the community and surrounding counties to come out and celebrate with us,” said Event Organizer, Tracy Frazier. “This is for all ethnicities because there were people of other races that fought for our freedom. Our goal is to make younger generations aware of the sacrifices that have been made for them so they can realize their full potential, seek to further their education, become socially aware and be more productive.”

The celebration is free to attend and will feature an entire afternoon of activities including spoken poetry and music followed by educators and ministers speaking. The Democratic Party will speak on the importance of voting and UAB will be present to offer education on cancer screening. Various BBQ grills will be present. Attendees are welcome to bring their own blankets and chairs. A playground is available for children.

“People can bring their own BBQ grill to set up if they would like, and bring what you and your family would like to eat but there will be enough food to share,” said Frazier. “This day is about promoting love, unity and giving. We can accomplish more when we are unified.”

E.M. Henry Park is located at 413 14th Street, Clanton.