Home • Camden County News Celebrating Black freedom at local Juneteenth events

Celebrating Black freedom at local Juneteenth events

Photo-S. Ramone

South Jersey residents are preparing to join this month’s nationwide celebration of Juneteenth, a pivotal day in history and in the story of slavery.

Juneteenth – a name that blends June and the 19th – commemorates the day in 1865 when Civil War Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce all enslaved people were free, marking the true end of slavery in the U.S.

Its origins go back to Freedom’s Eve on Dec. 31, 1862, when both enslaved and free African Americans gathered to hear President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The measure took effect at midnight on Jan. 1 the following year.

The historic document declared all enslaved individuals in the southern Confederate states legally free. Union soldiers – including many Blacks – spread the news throughout the South as they carried copies of the proclamation. But it was not immediately enforced in some Confederate-controlled areas, including Texas.

It wasn’t until the June day in 1865 that freedom reached that western-most Confederate state. The approximately 2,000 Union troops who arrived in Galveston Bay on that date made their announcement of freedom to more than 250,000 enslaved Blacks in the state.

Juneteenth has been celebrated for generations in Black communities as a time of reflection and cultural pride, but more recently nationwide. South Jersey offers a variety of ways to celebrate:

Community events: The African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey in Atlantic City will feature special exhibits and educational programs about Juneteenth’s history and significance. Camden’s Wiggins Waterfront Park will hold a day-long festival with music, food and cultural performances.

Educational workshops: Libraries and community centers are offering programs on Juneteenth and the broader context of African American history.

Parades and performances: Several municipalities, including Voorhees and Gloucester Township, will host parades featuring local bands, dance troupes and historical reenactments.

Support for Black-owned businesses: Residents are encouraged to support Black-owned shops, restaurants and services.

Virtual celebrations: For those who prefer to celebrate Juneteenth online, there are numerous virtual events, including webinars, livestreamed performances and discussions.

For more information on local and county Juneteenth events, visit glotwp.com, voorheesnj.com or camdencounty.com.

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