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Black History 365

Oakland issues proclamation for Juneteenth

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Lucy Dillon


Friday, June 14, 2024


The earliest Juneteenth events took place in 1866 in Texas. Winter Garden and Orlando are hosting celebrations Saturday, June 15, 2024, in City Park at 10 a.m. and Camping World Stadium at 2 p.m.

The Town of Oakland Tuesday issued its twelfth Juneteenth proclamation, and its second consecutive recognition of what’s known as Black Independence Day or Freedom Day, during its commission meeting.

Juneteenth (a meld of the words June and 19) marks the day on June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy surrendered and more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation — to deliver the news to the last Confederate community of enslaved Black people that they were free. The soldiers stayed to enforce the proclamation.

(Even with the Emancipation Proclamation and Juneteenth, slavery remained legal in slave-holding Union states like Delaware and Kentucky  until the 13th Amendment passed in December 1865. The Kentucky General Assembly finally ratified the amendment along with the 14th and 15th Amendments, granting citizenship to formerly enslaved Black people and giving Black men the right to vote, in 1976. Mississippi ratified the 13th Amendment in 1995, but only submitted the paperwork to the U.S. Archivist to "officially" end slavery in 2013.)

In 2021, President Joe Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday, saying it’s “a day in which we remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take.”

In announcing Oakland’s proclamation, Mayor Shane Taylor noted that Juneteenth is the country’s oldest known public celebration of the end of enslavement. Texas events date to 1866, according to the Washington Post.

“Juneteenth commemorates African-American freedom and celebrates the success gained through education and greater opportunity," Taylor said. "On a larger scale, Juneteenth reminds each of us of the precious promises of freedom, equality and opportunities, which are at the core of the American dream.”

Oakland’s commission had issued annual proclamations and hoståed art and music festivals for Juneteenth from 2008 to 2018. Town Commissioner Joseph McMullen urged the commission to restart the tradition in 2022. While it’s unclear why the proclamations stopped, this year marks the second consecutive year the town has issued a proclamation, according to Assistant Town Manager and Town Clerk Elise Hui.

Neither Windermere nor Ocoee issued Juneteenth proclamations this year. 

Winter Garden is hosting its fourth annual free Juneteenth Community Celebration Saturday, June 15 at City Park (10 a.m. to 1 p.m., 1203 E. Plant Street) in Historic East Winter Garden. Otherwise, the city did not issue a proclamation to mark Juneteenth. The city has said in the past that it does not issue proclamations for individual communities in favor of focusing on the unity of “One Winter Garden,” although last month Mayor John Rees singled out one specific religious community when he issued a proclamation for a city-wide Christian Day of prayer.

The City of Orlando, together with State Sen. Geraldine Thompson and the Association to preserve African Society, History and Tradition, are also hosting a free Juneteenth celebration in the East Plaza Lounge at Camping World Stadium on Saturday, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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