Juneteenth Celebration A Big Event

God's Little Princesses of FIrst Baptist Church, Rock Road, Radford
God’s Little Princesses of FIrst Baptist Church, Rock Road, Radford

Montgomery County-Radford City-Floyd County Youth Council in partnership with the Adult Branch and Pulaski Branch hosted the annual Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, June 16, 2018, at the Rosa L. Peters Playground. Juneteenth is the commemoration of June 19, 1865, when the slaves in Texas learned of the Emancipation Proclamation. This year’s celebration was attended by close to 300 people from across the New River Valley.

During the event, the Youth Council presented information about Juneteenth and shared their talents. Entertainment included a musical performance by Miss Jazmyn White who sang while accompanied by Miss Tyler Graves who played acoustic guitar, and a praise dance team “God’s Little Princesses” from First Baptist Church Rock Road, Radford. Ajnah Toliver, founder of The Black Wizzes of Science, made an informative presentation and quizzed the audience on Black history facts. Shawanda Marie from the New Orleans Creole Story Pot shared stories rich in the culture of New Orleans. We also had healthy food cooking demonstrations from the SNAP/Ph/Farmacy Garden and a free yoga session compliments of NRV Wellness.

Rita Irvin, President said, “This year’s Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom continues to grow as we connect with more and more members of our area. I thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere as we took time to share little-known accomplishments of African Americans, stories of our heritage, and activities of organizations. It was also encouraging to see our young people involved with the music, games, and learning experiences.”

The Juneteenth Celebration included informational booths from civic, social, and advocacy organizations: Virginia Organizing; Safe Kids Information Table with Carilion Health; League of Women Voters of Montgomery County; Christiansburg Institute Alumni Association; Christiansburg Ruritans; NRV Seventh Day Adventist Church; Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library; NRV Master Gardner Association; New River Valley Master Naturalists; Moms Demand Action; Christiansburg-Montgomery County Kiwanis; New River Agency on Aging; and Project Hub. We were also joined by the local history organizations: the Montgomery Museum and the Wake Forest Community Action Club which maintains the Wake Forest Museum. Local political committees including the Montgomery County Democrats; Montgomery County Republicans; Radford City Democrats; New River Valley Greens; Griffith for Congress; and Flaccovento for Congress. The Christiansburg Police Department and Montgomery County Sherriff’s Department shared information on children’s safety and the big hit was the Fire Engine from the Christiansburg Fire Department. Master Sergeant’s BBQ food truck was on hand with a variety of soul food items.

Joining the celebration also were our elected officials from Christiansburg, Blacksburg, Radford, and Montgomery County. Mayor Michael Barber of Christiansburg, Senator John Edwards and Senator Dave Suetterlein all gave greetings. Representative Morgan Griffith and Democratic candidate Anthony Flaccovento were also in attendance and greeted attendees. We would like to thank all who participated and contributed to the success of the event.

The Juneteenth celebration is also a fundraiser for the Youth Council. As a part of their entrepreneurship program, they sold hot dogs, chili dogs, chips and drinks. People enjoyed the fun associated with a cake walk and a raffle of Peter Souza’s Obama: An Intimate Portrait. Additionally, a 50/50 raffle was held and won by Ms. Pauline Palmer, who donated her winnings to the Youth Council.

Juneteenth is a time of community. Together we celebrated freedom.

Photo Credits: Larry Middleton, Terry Goodson and Lekei Patel