What a Beautiful Sunny Day to Celebrate Freedom

Cheryl Dixon-Hills shares her perspective of Juneteenth

The sunshine, warm breeze and spirit of the day gave an awesome start to the annual celebration of Juneteenth. Juneteenth is held annually in Clinton Square and Jubilee Park to recognize the emancipation of slaves in Louisiana and Texas, who were the last American slaves freed.

On June 18, 2011, South Salina Street was lined with the young, old, families and supporters of the participants in the Juneteenth parade that began at Dr. King Elementary School and ended at Clinton Square.

The laughter, smiles, clapping of the crowd let you know that they appreciated the bands playing and watching the African American Veterans & fire fighters marching, Pretty Girls Rock Youth Group, 100 Black Men Organization, Say Yes to Education and Hillside Work Scholarship Program (who were just a few of the organizations) marching in the June 18 celebration.

Watching the older family members explain to the younger generation why this day is so important and discussing how far we have come was comforting. The pride in both generations’ eyes were heart wrenching and the thought that oral history would continue to flow to the next generation is phenomenal.

After the parade, Clinton Square quickly filled with people and the sounds of choirs could be heard throughout the square. There were a variety of things to experience and the long lines in front of the vendors let you know that those wonderful smells would equally match the taste of the food being served.

While the vendors were busy selling food, clothing and other items the Health pavilion not only provided helpful, pertinent information but also tested your blood pressure, gave information on detecting strokes and HIV/Aids and provided you with an opportunity to be tested right on the spot to become a Bone Marrow registrant. How wonderful it was to see a young African American woman be tested and add her name to the registry.

The camaraderie in the crowd was fantastic as I witnessed the hugs and kisses being given to each other as a face was recognized in the crowd. The most important words I heard echoed through out the entire event was that ‚Äúthis is a great opportunity to share with the community a piece of history, culture and to educate our youth.” It also allowed the community to talk directly with African American fire fighters, police officers and youth mentors and to get High School graduation requirements from a Syracuse City School District Vice Principal Alton Hicks.

The fact that the community came together in celebration, maintained a calm spirit to share, exchange information, learn, support and grow together only makes this event more successful and worthy of the effort put into it by all the organizers, sponsors and participants. Hats off to the Juneteenth Committee and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate and still learn about my history.

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