It was not the sunniest of days, but the rain held off for the most part Saturday, as the bright sunshine of freedom illuminated the grounds across from the Holy Family Senior Center.
In partnership with the city, H’COLA (Hillside Coalition of Laborers for Apalachicola ) celebrated Juneteenth, marking the anniversary of the announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865, proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas. The holiday, which was made a national holiday in 2021, has come to symbolize the entire issue of the end of slavery in the United States.
The program featured vendors lining the grounds, with food and wares, and two giant water slides. The HCOLA partnership treated visitors to a complimentary hamburger or hot dog plate.
During the formal part of the afternoon, Mayor Brenda Ash addressed the small crowd, on the meaning of the holiday.
“Today we continue to celebrate our freedoms: freedom from oppression, freedom of equality, freedom of liberty, freedom to live, freedom to pursue our dreams, freedom to love, freedom to vote, freedom to be who we want to be, and achieve anything, as we are created in God’s own image,” she said. “We are victorious!”
Imploring the crowd to debunk the “myth of absence,” a phrase coined by Dr. Lerone Bennett, Jr., Ash said the theory states that “if we are not talking about ‘it,’ then ‘it” never happened.
“Let’s continue to talk about all the successes our ancestors accomplished,” she said. “Let’s continue to show and prove that we are strong, smart, courageous and worthy of all the good things that God has to offer.”
Commissioner Anita Grove spoke briefly, praising Ash for adopting the holiday for city staffers on Monday, June 20. She was followed by Dr. Willie Tolliver, who offered a history lesson on the story of slavery in America dating back to 1619. DT Simmons offered a recitation of her poem on blackness.