Charlottesville Group Hosts Juneteenth Emancipation Celebration
A celebration Tuesday in Charlottesville was nearly 150 years in the making. Juneteenth - which stands for June 19 - started when a union general rode into Galveston, Texas on this day in 1865 and announced the slaves were free.
Virginia does not recognize it as an official state holiday, but nonetheless, people at the University of Virginia gathered Tuesday to commemorate.
Common Ground, a group of UVA library employees organized to promote diversity, hosted the event which took place behind Alderman Library.
The group has been hosting Juneteenth events for three years, but this is the first time they decided to take the party outside.
"It's a festive event. It's not a somber occasion, but it is a celebration and we try to keep that theme," said Tobiyah Morris, a human resources generalist for the library.
Juneteenth is the oldest known commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
Tuesday's event at UVA was held as an ice cream social, and participants drank strawberry soda, a staple of Juneteenth celebrations. The group also took turns reading the Emancipation Proclamation out loud.
"Just being able to read the Emancipation Proclamation and reflect on what President Lincoln did is a great opportunity," said Ophelia Payne, a member of Common Ground.
And Morris agrees. "To our community it's also an opportunity to celebrate together in diversity. We like to celebrate in our own small way," she said.
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