The Richmond-Madison County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is hosting its first-ever event to mark Juneteenth.

The event, which is open to the public, will take place on Saturday, June 19, on the front lawn of the Madison County Courthouse.

According to a press release, the family-friendly Juneteenth program will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will include refreshments and historical information regarding Juneteenth provided at no cost.

All are welcome to drop-in for celebration, education, and fellowship.

Mitch Brown, the president of the Madison County NAACP chapter, said this event was a great opportunity for the branch as they have never had the chance to celebrate Juneteenth in the past.

"This event is the general direction the branch wants to go in with getting people more involved," Brown said. "This gives us an opportunity to educate about this historical event to the general community and the youth that are still facing issues now."

Juneteenth is the nation’s oldest-known celebration commemorating the end of slavery.

Despite President Abraham Lincoln declaring the end of slavery on September 22, 1862, the news of freedom did not arrive to all freed persons until federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 – over two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Locally, Juneteenth is celebrated as a day of freedom and jubilee given that within our local community there were many enslaved persons, with the first slaves arriving as early as 1775, the NAACP release shared.

By the time leading up to the U.S. Civil War, approximately one-third of the county’s population was enslaved. While substantial amounts of slavery existed within our community, Madison County also has a rich history related to emancipation and abolitionism including the actions of Cassius M. Clay, and many persons in the Berea community including Rev. John G. Fee, and John and Elizabeth Rogers.

"Notably, we remember Rev. Madison Campbell, who had to purchase his freedom well after President Lincoln’s emancipation orders in 1862," the release noted. "Specifically, Rev. Campbell’s freedom was self-purchased in 1863 for $233 during the Civil War. History records the indelible positive impact by Rev. Campbell on the health and well-being of the entire Richmond and Madison County community."

Brown said hosting this event will serve in part as a reminder to the community of the strength, resolve and discipline that African Americans had during slavery and abolition efforts.

"They never gave up," he said. "Looking back then at those that came before us, we will never know that experience, but we hope to demonstrate something to this generation.

The local branch welcomes all to join on June 19 in celebrating the freedoms enjoyed today, while honoring the lives of the enslaved Africans, freed persons, and their many contributions to America and Madison County.

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