Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery

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  • Photos by George LeRoy Hunter Dingmans Ferry, Pa. resident Rashaad Taylor entertains the crowd with a Michael Jackson impersonation.

  • Organic skin care products at the Beauty Fusions by Mimi table.

  • Business partners George Dozier and Shawn Wylie own the Famdotily company. The Philadelphia, PA company specializes in T- shirts and other items (www.facebook.com/famdotily).

  • Vendor table displaying art and other items.

  • Mountain Stream Baptist Church members at their table. The church is located in East Stroudsburg, Pa.

  • Drummer Baba Keino Anderson of Tobyhanna, Pa. and his partners perform.

  • Pennsylvania State Representative Rosemary Brown with members of the African-American Network of the Poconos.

  • Children and adults engage in face painting and art activities.

  • The Eleve Dance Group perform.

Visitors, vendors and dignitaries from the region descended on Lehman Township Community Park to celebrate Juneteenth on Saturday, June 14 and enjoy food, music, art, games and community interaction.

Pennsylvania State Representative Rosemary Brown and her political challenger Delaware Township resident and Democrat Liz Forrest were among the special guests.

Officially recognized on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth and is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in most states.

The Juneteenth celebration in Pike County Pennsylvania is promoted and organized by the African American Network of the Poconos.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 that 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.

This particular military action took place two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed and issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, with an effective date of Jan. 1,1863.

The Civil War was a bloody and divisive conflict. Even after Union forces defeated the Confederacy there was much bitterness. Texas was the last holdout in the United States. The 'Lonestar State' refused to comply with the Emancipation Proclamation. To put an end to Texas noncompliance Major General Granger along with 2,000 armed federal troops arrived on the island of Galveston to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves. On June 19, 1865 standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, Granger read the contents of "General Order No. 3":

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

Former slaves in Galveston rejoiced in the streets upon hearing the contents of "General Order No. 3". Juneteenth celebrations began in Texas the following year and spread to other areas in America in later years. Economic and cultural forces led to a decline in Juneteenth celebrations in the early 20th century. But in recent years Juneteenth celebrations have gained renewed interest.

"This is the seventh year Juneteenth has been celebrated in Pike County," African American Network of the Poconos President Cleo MeriAbut Jarvis stated. "Juneteenth has been around for many years and has been very big in the southern states like Virginia. Many people up here (North East) just don't know about it. Juneteenth has gotten more recognition in recent years because of word of mouth and the press. Juneteenth is being celebrated today in Coney Island, New York and also last week Brooklyn held a Juneteenth event. We (African Americans) are proud of our heritage and we are proud to be free like everyone else. Its about celebrating freedom and sharing the joy of that celebration with us."

For more photos visit www.PikeCountyCourier.com.

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