Juneteenth 2010 - Juneteenth 2010 | Manchester Docks, Richmond, VA
On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston Texas and read the following proclamation:
"The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere."
Because slaves were forbidden from receiving an education, many could not grasp the concept of month, date and year. So the easiest way to remember this monumental day was to fuse June with Nine'teenth' to get "Juneteenth".
Today, all over the country, celebrations large and small are held to celebrate the day that all enslaved African descended Americans finally won their freedom. Juneteenth's are traditionally educational gatherings. Required red food items include: red soda water, BBQ sauce, red velvet cake and watermelon. The color red signifies the sacrifice of those who came before us.
Traditionally Juneteenth started as a pot luck. Each family would make a contribution by bringing one of their favorite dishes. Everyone would save the entire year to not only purchase the expensive lamb and pork chop items but they would also save up to buy the very best fabric to make new clothes. You see, Juneteenth was also a dress up day. Women would wear their best hat, and men their best suits. Juneteenth was a source of pride for the newly freed and they wanted to look their best while they ate their best.
A torch lit funeral procession immediately followed the day's events on the slave trail walk led by Richmond's Cultural Ambassador, Mrs. Janine Bell. At 11:00 pm, Nana Kwabena Faheem Ashanti, Ghanaian priest, performed a traditional Rite to Return for those enslaved Africans buried at the Negro Burial Ground in Shockoe Bottom. Several hundred people were in attendance to witness this historical funeral.
Celebrated every 3rd Saturday of June, the celebration has extended beyond the borders of the United States. Among the foreign dignitaries at the 145th annual Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom @ Manchester Dock in Richmond, Virginia were: Ghana's Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Daniel Ohene Agyekum and his Deputy Chief of Missions, Mrs. Edith Hazel. Cultural Affairs Secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of Angola, Mrs. Delfina Cordeiro-Nascimento.
The Richmond Juneteenth Celebration is led by the Elegba Folklore Society with support from: City of Richmond, VentureRichmond, Richmond Slave Trail Commission, Richmond Department of Parks,
Recreation & Community Facilities, James River Park System, Center for African American Genealogy Research, Inc., Virginia Commonwealth University, American Civil War Center, Future of Richmond’s Past and William Byrd Community House. Virginia Commission for the Arts.