By Katelynn White
NASHVILLE, TN — The Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Lincoln on Jan.1, 1863 and in April 1865, the American Civil War ended but the news of freedom did not reach all African Americans. Some stayed enslaved longer than others.
This was the case for enslaved people in Galveston, Texas. Nearly two and a half years went by before Union troops
notified slaves about their new freedom status. On June 19, 1865 the Emancipation Proclamation was read aloud to slaves in the city.
For 156 years June 19 has been celebrated in parts of the African American community and has been known as Juneteenth or Emancipation Day.
The day was officially written into history two days before this year’s celebrations begun. President Joseph Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law on June 17. Juneteenth is the latest national holiday to be recognized since Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 1983.
Juneteenth was celebrated across the United States with the Black community celebrated African American freedom while emphasizing the importance of education and achievement.
Nashville’s historic Hadley Park filled the area with food trucks, live music and local vendors to help celebrate the culture.
Davidson County Property Assessor, Vivian Wilhoite briefly spoke to the crowd on Saturday. “Juneteenth is about
freedom. It is about information. We weren’t given information when we were free,’ she said.
Various guest speakers attended the Hadley Park celebration, including community activist Keith Caldwell, Dr. Joseph Webb, president of Nashville General Hospital and councilwoman-at-large Sharon Hurt.
Celebrations were found throughout the city and while some residents chose to indulge in food and listen to music, other residents chose to celebrate with paintbrushes in their hands.
On Woodland Street volunteers celebrated Juneteenth by helping repaint the Black Lives Matter mural.
The BLM mural was first painted in October 2020 but was reported by news channels to be purposely defaced the next day by drivers who did not agree with the freshly painted message.
At the repainting of the BLM mural event, Tennessee State University student Monica Hardy volunteered her time and talked about the establishment of the holiday. This is only the beginning, she said.
“ Getting a holiday established, that is nice, but I think we are wanting more too as well. So, I think this is a first step and maybe more steps will be taken because I feel like we’ll be heard more and looked at as a human more.”