Juneteenth Plans Not Yet Final

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

The Juneteenth celebration is less than two months away, and yet final plans about how and where to hold it have not been made.

Juneteenth celebrates the day when word of the Emancipation Proclamation spread nationwide in 1865 and the resulting celebration it caused. It is observed nationwide on June 18, as well as in other countries.

But this year Louis Sutton, a member of the Meridian committee, says the event is short of money and undecided whether to keep it downtown or move it.

"The city did make a contribution of $10,000, but the budget we're working with this year is about $26,000," Sutton said. "And we have some commitments for additional sponsorships from the community but we have not received those as of yet."

Gloria Willis, also a member of the Juneteenth Committee says a move from downtown is under consideration.

"Well, first of all we just looked at our options. One option was Bonita Lakes. That way we could charge as they entered the gates, and the other option was downtown. Of course, that was the first option," said Willis.

Other downtown options other than 5th Street include Singing Brakeman Park and Dumont Plaza. However, the Juneteenth celebration has always been held in the traditional African American business community area of 5th Street in downtown Meridian.

The thought of moving it was challenged at the council meeting by local businessman Tavio Rand.

"As a business owner, in the historical Fifth Street African-American business district, I was shocked and chagrined when I heard the news that there was a possible move of the Juneteenth Heritage Festival from the African-American Historical District, Freedom Park, to Bonita Lakes or other possible locations."

Rand said that neither he, nor any other 5th Street business owner had been contacted about a location change. With time running out, the committee will meet again to make the necessary decisions.


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