June 19 means so much, to so many different people, for so many different reasons. Whether a birthday, a wedding anniversary, a graduation, etc., people from around the world will celebrate on that day. But to a people enslaved in Texas in 1865, it meant one thing: freedom.
The African-American Cultural Society held its annual Juneteenth Celebration, the oldest national holiday that celebrates and commemorates the ending of slavery, Saturday, June 13, at the African-American Cultural Center. The room was illuminated with African Kente cloth, headwear, jewelry and art, and kids from various organizations seemed to brighten up the area with their dances, songs and smiles
The First Church Youth Choir and the Mount Calvary Baptist Youth Liturgical Dancers amazed those in attendance with culture dances and songs, such as “Siyahumba,” an African melody.
“I think this is a great program; there is such a need for programs like this,” said Stephanie Ecklin, president of AACS. “I really do enjoy what we do here because, if there was ever a time when we, as a people, needed programs like this, it’s now.
We are such a lost people, and any type of cultural program helps us to identify ourselves and somewhat begin to remember our identity. It’s such a lost feeling now, knowing who you are and where you come from, and programs like this help to fill those gaps of information.”
Mayor Jon Netts and Vice Mayor Bill McGuire attended the ceremony, and Netts read a proclamation naming June 13 as Juneteenth in the city of Palm Coast.
Guest speaker Howard Holley, president and CEO of The Holley Group, delivered a message titled “Where do we go from here?” and Sheryl Sumlin, Barclay Parish Associate at Trinity Presbyterian Church, spoke on the topic “We matter.”
“I think it’s great that the community comes out and that this community has an interest in programs like this,” Ecklin said.
“Before I came here, I had no clue what Juneteenth was all about. It’s time for us to make our history known and to make our mark in society. I would love to see us go more out into the community and bring more people in to tell more about what we do and our history.”
For more information, call 447-7030, or visit aacsinc.org. For a photo gallery of the event, go to http://www.palmcoastobserver.com/news/palm-coast/Neighborhood/0619201510644/Juneteenth-photo-gallery.