By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press
WAYNESBORO — The first-ever Juneteenth Celebration in the River City will be held Sunday, June 19, at Ridgeview Park from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“A lot of places are having them now because it’s recognized as a national holiday now,” said Joyce Colemon, president of the Waynesboro branch of the NAACP, the event’s organizer.
Juneteenth, or June 19, was first celebrated as a federal holiday last year after President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law.
Colemon will give a presentation of an historic look at the date at this year’s celebration. In Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, Union Army General Gordon Granger announced a proclamation freeing enslaved people in Texas, the last state of the Confederacy which had institutional slavery after the American Civil War ended in April 1865.
Juneteenth has been celebrated on June 19 since and also known as Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day and Black Independence Day.
All ages and backgrounds are welcome to Ridgeview Park for food trucks, vendors, presentations and activities to celebrate on Father’s Day.
Colemon said that holding the celebration on Father’s Day will bring more excitement for fathers, an opportunity to celebrate the day in another way and opportunities to see community members.
“Just coming together. It’s time for folks to lay aside whatever and come together,” Colemon said.
Colemon presented the idea of the celebration to the Waynesboro branch “and everybody was on board with it.” She said the day is important to recognize and share the history because not many know about the history behind June 19.
“It’s a lot of untold histories out there,” she said. “This will hopefully shed a lot of history in this area.”
Participants are welcome to bring lawn chairs and food. Food trucks will include Backyard and Order Up!
Presentations will include the Praise Angel Dancers from Shiloh Baptist Church in Waynesboro, gospel music, poetry readings, folk singing, R&B music, African drumming and Buffalo Soldiers from Charlottesville.
New Directions Center of Staunton, Blue Ridge Community College, the Democratic Party, Katt’s Creations and The Virginia Organizer will have tables set up with information.
“We’re excited about it, and hopefully we’ll have a large turnout,” Colemon said. “And hoping to bring the community together with this celebration.”