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'A day of remembrance': Central Georgia commemorating 157 years of Juneteenth

Marked June 19, 1865, union soldiers rode into Galveston to let enslaved people know the emancipation proclamation had been signed and they were free.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — This year marks 157 years of Juneteenth. Before becoming a national holiday, it was widely celebrated in the Black community

After celebrating the holiday for more than a decade, Antuanette Davis describes Juneteenth as, "A day of remembrance, a day that we can share with our future generations as to the day of our celebration, our celebration of freedom as an African American."

Now, she aims to pass down that knowledge through helping organize an annual event 

"We will actually have a festival from 12-6 right here at Perkins Field in Warner Robins, Georgia, right off of Watson where will have over 40 vendors, food trucks, we will have a kiddie area," she said.  

Juneteenth is more than another day to just have fun -- it's historic. 

Chester Fontenot, Mercer's Director of Africana Studies, says it’s important to mark the holiday. 

"Juneteenth is very similar to the Fourth of July. Juneteenth is important because the Fourth of July had an impact of people of African descent, because while other folks were celebrating their freedom, Black people, for the most part, were slaves," the director explained. 

Marked June 19,1865, union soldiers rode into Galveston, Texas to let enslaved people know the emancipation proclamation had been signed and they were free. Fast forward 157 years later, the holiday is widely recognized. 

"Juneteenth is important, it is our Freedom Day, it is our Independence Day in a sense from the manacles of slavery and all that, so I’m glad to see that Juneteenth is getting a kind of recognition,” he said. 

The event is free and will happen Saturday, June 18 from 12 p.m. at the Perkins Field in Warner Robins. 

Juneteenth became a national holiday in 2021 and in April of 2022, Governor Brian Kemp made Juneteenth a paid holiday for state employees.

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