Each year some African American communities commemorate the end of slavery with a celebration called “Juneteenth”. Although, the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in January, 1863 many enslaved people didn’t learn of their freedom until many months later, and in the case of Salem, N.C. and Galveston, Texas it was nearly two years later.
This month there will be hundreds of Juneteenth celebration scheduled as the African-American community honors the memories of those who died in the Civil War bringing forth a “New Birth’ of freedom to this country. Most of these celebration involve music, food, dance, and commemorative speeches as a form of remembrance.
On June 4, Old Salem in Winston-Salem, N.C. will hosts a luncheon in which Dr.Reginald F. Hildebrand, Associate Professor of African American Studies and History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will speak about The First Year of Freedom in North Carolina: Pursuing Freedom with the Hoe and the Sword, the Book and the Lord.” He will use primary sources like letters, news reports, and diaries to explain some of the ways in which freedom was experienced in North Carolina in the year 1865.
Enslaved people first celebrated Juneteenth on June 19, 1865 in Texas, but the commemorative services has spread to 36 states. Celebrants barbecue, sip strawberry soda among other activities such as singing, African dance, and enjoying poetry readings.