Walking, dancing, talking and learning were all part of a morning celebrating the liberation of African Americans from slavery as Gainesville scored June 10 at Depot Park on Saturday.
The event, sponsored by the city, drew several hundred people to the park.
“. You could have been anywhere and doing anything, that is sleeping, but you chose to celebrate June 15 with us, ”said PJ Jones of Gainesville Regional Utilities. “This year was our first 5K, but next year will be bigger and better.”
The walk started at the park, headed west along Depot Avenue, and looped into the park on an extension of the Sixth Street Rail Trail.
Along the route, signs informed about slavery, emancipation and African-American notables in history.
” It was wonderful. I stopped and took pictures of everyone, ”said Quintina Meekins. “I’m really glad there is more information going around because there is a lot of stuff that we don’t know, that isn’t really taught, other than my dad telling me things. I think it’s great. “
The morning began with proclamations for local officials and a performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” – an African-American anthem.
It ended with dance performances for young people and oral readings on stage, as well as line dances among the crowd.
At the Alachua County Library booth, people could tie together narrow strips of red construction paper with words such as joy and friendship to create a chain of hope that thwarts the chains of slavery.
“If children or young people look at the different words, they can think about what it means to them – what is joy today and freedom? Cone Park branch manager Diane Johnson said. “We’ve put together a show for June 15 that people can watch online. We try to be where we need to be and do what we need to do.
Several members of the University of Florida’s Black Male Excellence Network joined the march.
“It was really eye-opening – being able to celebrate and learn more about the story and then move on to the present,” said Spencer Davis.
Juneteenth was designated as a national holiday on Thursday. He was born in Texas in 1865.
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. It declared that enslaved people in the Confederate States that fought the Union during the Civil War were free.
However, Texas did not impose emancipation until 1865. Juneteenth began in Texas as a result of this celebration.