Residents Celebrate Juneteenth at Douglass Park

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COLUMBIA - The Juneteenth celebration on Saturday marked the unofficial Freedom Day, when a Union general in Galveston, Texas announced to slaves there that they had been freed. This was two years after President Abraham Lincoln made the official Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.

"Black folks were still living in Mississippi under slavery. They were still slaves. Even when the president announced that black folks had been freed. Black people stayed slaves in their own minds cause they didn't have a radio or television. No one told them that they were free," guest Curtis Soul said.

Juneteenth is a holiday in the United States honoring African American heritage by commemorating the announcement. It has been an official state holiday since 1890 and is typically celebrated on June 18 and 19.

This year's early celebration at Douglass Park featured music, games, a speaker, food and African American art. The celebration included an old-fashioned basket dinner and barbeque hosted by local churches. The basket dinner style was originally started by the freed slaves. 

History teacher Earnestine Campbell shared her thoughts on what Juneteenth means to her.

"The history of when slavery was supposedly over and there were different people that had gone from the slave plantations found out a year or so later that they were free and they had not known.They had to get it word of mouth to find out they were free. From that, of course, like most of our African-American people we celebrate," Campbell said.

The celebration will continue Sunday at Douglass Park from 3-8 p.m.