“The Summer Hill Heritage Group’s mission is to educate and expose aspects of African-American history, not only about Summer Hill and Cartersville but national information as well and this was another piece that we wanted to educate the Bartow County community on,” said Joy Hill Watson, curator for the Summer Hill Heritage Museum. “It hasn’t been celebrated in Bartow County but it is a national celebration. Just up the street in Marietta, I think they’ve been doing it for about 10 years. It’s a huge celebration over the course of, I think, three days.
“So we just wanted to bring some of that to Bartow County. Believe it or not, we are still in the process of defining Juneteenth. There are a lot of people last year who thought it had something to do with teenagers because of the teenth part. ... Juneteenth was the day — it was June 19 — that slaves in Texas actually found out that they were free. They were freed two years prior to that but they didn’t find out until June 19 . So it’s a national celebration. We just want to celebrate freedom for all. It’s almost like a July Fourth-type of celebration, just another reason to celebrate America.”
On June 18, Cartersville’s celebration will start with refreshments at 6 p.m. and a multi-church Bible study at 7 p.m. at the Summer Hill Educational and Recreational Complex, 129 Aubrey St. in Cartersville. The programs will continue June 20 from 5 to 8 p.m. with an opening ceremony consisting of vendors and entertainment on the complex’s lawn.
The Juneteenth offerings will conclude on June 21 with a 10 a.m. parade from the Cartersville Civic Center to the Summer Hill complex, where activities, such as a children’s area, car and bike show, basketball tournament and live entertainment will get underway. For youth enrolled in elementary to high school to compete in the tournament, parents need to contact David Archer Jr., 770-606-3764, prior to the event.
According to www.juneteenth.com, “Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation — which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.
“Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or neither of these [versions] could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln’s authority over the rebellious states was in question. For whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.”
For more information, call Watson at 770-873-3146.