Addie Marie Jones, Addie Marie Jones - VOICES on IDENTITY and Stopping Violence
Juneteenth on the Internet is noted as “the oldest nationally celebrated commemora- tion of the ending of slavery in the United States.” The slaves in Galveston, Texas did not get news of the signing of the Emancipa- tion Proclamation freeing slaves by President Abraham Lincoln until June 19th approximate- ly two years after this event actually occurred. The proclamation itself states: “That on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then, … thenceforward, and forever [be] free; and the executive government of the United States, including the military and na- val authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.” “Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and contin- ues to influence our society today. Juneteenth is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, pic- nics and family gatherings. The Central Area Chamber of Commerce Festival generally oc- curs over the President’s Day holiday week- end. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future. Its growing popu- larity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long over due. Sensitized to the con- ditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significant and lasting improve- ments in our society.” www.juneteenth.com Central Area Chamber of Commerce founder and President DeCharlene Williams is from Tex- as. She has provided this annual cultural cele- bration in Seattle for the past 25 years. She says that wherever they are, members of her family do the same to keep this cultural tradition alive.