Edies Cope, president of the Effingham County Branch of the NAACP, announced that the Effingham County Branch will host its first Juneteenth celebration June 19 from 6-7 p.m. at the Effingham Health System's Human Resources Building, 701 First St., Springfield.
Many in the larger Effingham community, including some members of the NAACP, know little about the Juneteenth celebration and its origin. So what does the Juneteenth celebration commemorate?
The national registry of Juneteenth organizations and supporters reports, “Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.”
On June 19, 1965, Union soldiers, under the leadership of Gen. Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas, informed the slaves in Texas that they were indeed free. The reality is that, by an executive order known as the Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln had abolished slavery on January 1, 1863 — 2 1/2 years before the Union forces informed the slaves in Texas.
In addition, the surrender of the Confederate troops, under General Robert E. Lee, occurred in April 1865.
Many of the branches of the NAACP nationwide, including the Effingham County one, have a history of celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1 each year.
Some branches, most certainly and appropriately in Texas, have Juneteenth celebrations on June 19. Many branches celebrate in jubilant fashion.
Lucy Powell, a founding member of the Effingham County Branch of the NAACP in 1968, informs that there are municipalities in the local extended area that have a history of Juneteenth celebrations. Powell and other members of the local Effingham branch know of such celebrations in Savannah, Hilton Head Island and Statesboro.
Some municipalities schedule their celebrations for the weekends before or after June 19.
Powell reported that the Effingham County branch has reached out to Dr. Torian White, a former South Effingham High School valedictorian and recently appointed principal of that school, for advice as he worked on Juneteenth celebrations in Statesboro.
Expansion of the celebration may occur in future years.
Cope extends an invitation to the entire extended community to join with the members of the Effingham County Branch of the NAACP.