Troy Moon, Pensacola State College
On July 4, the United States will celebrate its independence from Great Britain with fireworks, barbecues and everything red, white and blue.
But to say it’s a celebration of freedom is only partially true. Because when the nation was formed in 1776, there were tens of thousands of enslaved people in the new country.
True freedom for all Americans would come with President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, though news of that freedom was slow to spread to some parts of the still-young country.
In Texas, the news of freedom didn’t come until 1865 when Union Army Major Gen. Gordon Granger and his soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to read General Order No. 3, informing residents that slavery had been abolished.
The date was June 19. There were an estimated 250,000 enslaved people in Texas at the time.
Celebrations arose and commemoration of the historical day began a year later in churches across Texas. Juneteenth – a true celebration of independence and freedom ─ was born.
Pensacola State College will celebrate Juneteenth on Saturday, June 19, on the Pensacola campus. Events include music, poetry, theater performances and so much more. The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Hagler Auditorium, Building 2, and the Delaino Student Center, Building 5.
“It’s a celebration,” said Tonie Anderson-Steele, a Milton campus counselor and adviser to the PSC African American Student Association, which is sponsoring the event along with the PSC Black History/Multicultural Committee and the University of West Florida’s Office of Equity and Diversity. “It’s not a remembrance of slavery. It’s a celebration of freedom.”
Part of the event includes Anderson-Steele and the African American Student Association’s “History of Juneteenth” discussion at 5 p.m. in the Hagler Auditorium
There are numerous events throughout the day, including a 2 p.m. demonstration of African cuisine by Chef Kimathi Robinson and the theatrical play “Harriet” – a tribute to Harriet Tubman – at 3 p.m. The Juneteenth Grand Finale at 5:30 p.m. will feature poets, musicians, vocalists and dancers. One event will be on Zoom only – a short presentation on the History of Afrocentric Drumming by Duke University music instructor Bradley Simmons.
“COVID-19 took a lot out of everyone,” said Anderson-Steele. “This is a great way to reunite as a College and community and to celebrate something that is important to our history. It’s for all people, not just a group of people. This is a celebration for everyone.”
Juneteenth Celebration Schedule
9 a.m., Camelia Willis, Yoga LIVE, Student Center, Building 5.
9:45 a.m., Eleanor Johnson, Dancer LIVE, Student Center, Building 5
10:30 a.m., Bradley Simmons, Drumming, via Zoom only, Student Center, Building 5
11:50 a.m., Break
12 p.m., AASA Lunch, hamburgers, hot dogs, French friends, chips, rib plates, water and Coke products for minimal cost, Gazebo outside Student Center.
12:30 p.m., Liturgical Dance by Fallon Earlington, outside near gazebo.
1 p.m., Theola Bright, Head Wrap Designs, Student Center, Building 5.
1:45 p.m., Break.
2 p.m., Chef Kimathi Robinson, demonstration of African cuisine, Student Center, Building 5.
3 p.m., Lawrence Gamell, Jessica McMillian, “Harriet” theatrical production, via Zoom and live, Hagler Auditorium, Building 2, Room 252.
4 p.m., Storytelling Time by the African American Heritage Society and face painting by Tammy Warren, Student Center, Building 5.
5 p.m., History of Juneteenth, Dr. Tonie Anderson-Steele and AASA, Hagler Auditorium, Building 2, Room 242.
5:10 p.m., Bradley Simmons, seminar, History of Afrocentric Drumming, via Zoom only, Hagler Auditorium.
5:30 p.m., Polimatree Grand Finale of our Juneteenth Celebration — LIVE, Hagler Auditorium.
• Lepoleon Williams – Director
• Delores Gibson – Poet
• Angela West-Robinson – Soloist
• Ericka Streeter Hodge – Poet
• Tuesday Donaldson – Poet
• Lloyd Reshard – Vocalist
• Deborah A. Ferguson – Storytelling w/ Folk Dancer
• Robert Robinson-Drummer
• Wayne Curtis – Drummer
• Craig DePass – Drummer
• Allen Williams – Drummer
• Shakara Hawkins – Dancer
• Eleanor K. Johnson – Dancer