Junteenth Committee members discuss significance of historical day

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration that marks the end of slavery in the U.S.

Here in the Cape Fear, the Wilmington Juneteenth Committee will host a virtual celebration discussing a range of topics like voting, slavery, economic development, and more.

January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, ending slavery.

That news took time to travel until finally in 1865, when the U.S. Colored Troops and Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX to enforce the order.

“There’s questions as to why it took so long, but even the great Booker T. Washington was a slave in VA at the time and said they didn’t get word until February of 1865, so it was kind of across the U.S. It was just slow…people didn’t want to give up the idea of slavery,” Juneteenth Committee of Wilmington Co-Chair Abdul Rahman Shareef said.

And now, more than a 150 years later, Wilmington Juneteenth Committee Chair Marsha Ali said in many ways, we are still fighting for freedom.

“We’re still enslaved, because they haven’t issued us the correct education, we’ve gotten it through our struggles, but we don’t have good housing, a lot of people,” Ali said. “We don’t have the good jobs, and the money that will help bring us equally in this.”

The officer-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has also generated an increased interest in the history of Juneteenth.

“We have a diverse group that’s coming forward. Usually in times of things like this. You see mostly African-American,” Shareef said.

Instead of a traditional gathering this year, they are moving the event to a virtual celebration due to COVID-19 impacts.

Shareef said they will be discussing politics, culture, economics, government and more.

“You gotta go forward, but you gotta know where you are, and you gotta know where you come from,” Shareef explained.

He said there is one main goal.

“We hope to inspire people, particularly African-American people to reconnect with our history.”…….”Often time we run from our history. Our history has some pain in it, but without pain, it’s no gain, so we need to reconnect with our history because if we don’t reconnect with our history, someone else will always be writing the story,” Shareef said.

The Juneteenth celebration will be held Saturday and Sunday, and will start at 3 p.m.

The event will be held on Zoom. Here is the information:


Phone: 1-929-205-6099 ; Meeting ID: 883 5505 2862

Categories: Community, Local, New Hanover

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