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Local NAACP branch set to host pair of holiday events

The Effingham County Branch NAACP's Armed Services and Veteran Affairs Committee announced that it will host the first Veterans Appreciation in the Park on May 28 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

The Memorial Day weekend event will take place at Baker Lake, 224 Courthouse Road Extension, Springfield. The theme is, “No Vet Left Behind.” It

In its first year, the committee, led by Henry Walker as chairperson, with the assistance of Sebrena Holmes Gibson, has become an active, integral part of the branch. Walker and Holmes Gibson report that hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, drinks, and sweets will be served. They extend an invitation to the entire community — Effingham County and beyond.

The Effingham County Branch NAACP celebrated Juneteenth for the first time in 2019, as primarily a meeting to educate the community about its significance to this day. The 2020 celebration was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

In 2021 the branch transformed the event to one of education and celebration. 

Lucy Powell, the chairperson of the Juneteenth Committee, announced that this year's event will extend the celebratory nature of           the day. It will take place June 18 from 3-6 p.m. at the old Effingham County Recreation Department Gym at 808 Ga. Hwy 119, Springfield, near the Springfield Public Library. This venue allows the branch to have an indoor and outdoor presence with ample parking.

Juneteenth celebrates the freedom of the slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865. In fact, these former slaves had been freed already by the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln on Jan. 1, 1863.

However, the news traveled slowly in those days, and the freed "slaves" did not know that they had been freed. On June 19, 1865, Union troops in Galveston, Texas, informed the slaves that indeed they were freed. As one can imagine, quite a celebration took place!

As June 19 falls on a Sunday this year, Powell and committee members, which include Jennifer Golden and Tony Chiariello, on Saturday June 18 as advised  previously.

Over the many years, the celebration, which became an annual event in Texas, began to expand. Juneteenth has been celebrated in the South in an increasing fashion, including, of course, in Georgia, most notably in Savannah. 

As noted previously, here in Effingham County, the NAACP began its annual celebration in 2019.

On June 18, 2021,  President Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a national holiday. June 19 will henceforth be known as Juneteenth National Independence Day. 

Powell noted that this gives the extended community even more reason to celebrate.

The Juneteenth Committee extends an invitation to the entire community to celebrate this joyous occasion. The event promises to be educational, for sure, but certainly considerable fun as well. The committee reports that there will be speakers, entertainers,  food and drinks provided at no cost to those who attend. More specific information concernig the event will be provided as soon as confirmed.