Augustans celebrate freedom as Juneteenth becomes a federal holiday


AUGUSTA, G.A. (WJBF) – Augusta locals celebrated the first annual Juneteenth holiday with a two-part event.

It was put on by the National Action Network. The event started at the Southgate plaza, then there was a motorcade that brought it over to the Ikonz Sports Bar and Grill.

NewsChannel 6 spoke with several vendors and organizers about Juneteenth being recognized as a federal holiday more than 150 years after the day actually happened. Many of them saying it’s a step in the right direction.

Joseph Washington III, Lives in Augusta:

“I want you to tell everybody you know, take this one message from Juneteenth. You know what it is? Freedom,” said Joseph Washington III.

It’s a celebration of freedom, as local historian Joseph Washington III explains the now federal holiday.

“First of all, it’s the only real holiday that never had a mask, It’s not Christmas, it’s not Easter, you know one minute it’s about the easter bunny and the next minute it’s about resurrection and all this other kind of stuff. Juneteenth always has been about freedom,” said Washington.

But Washington says that message of freedom isn’t just for Black people.

“It carries the message of freedom to the other races, and other communities that have been inspired by Black folks all down through these years, I’m talking about the native Americans, I’m talking about the aboriginals over in Australia, we carried that message and so that’s why it’s so important. It’s our day and it finally came,” he said.

On Thursday, President Biden signed the legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday into law. Juneteenth refers to Jubilation Day. It commemorates the end of slavery back in 1865 when the last of the slaves were freed out of Texas. Now, 155 years later it’s being acknowledged nationally.

“What a wonderful honor and tribute to what my people of color have been fighting for for ages,” said Traci George, the Augusta Area Coordinator for the People’s Agenda.

For Traci George, the signing of Juneteenth into a federal holiday was a tribute to the roles activist play in our community.

“Just normal everyday Americans went out and fought for this day. Our grandmother Opal, she fought and she marched for Juneteenth to become a reality,” said George.

And now Augusta is celebrating that reality.

“It’s really heartwarming to see the community embrace this holiday, because it means so much to so many people” said District 1 Commissioner Jordan Johnson.

Saturday’s event was filled with food games and prizes. One person even took home a 50 inch T.V. Medical Associates Plus was also here administering the Johnson and Johnson Vaccine.

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