SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Tuesday is Juneteenth - the anniversary of the last American slaves being freed - two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
There have been Juneteenth events taking place for weeks across the region.
References to the struggle were included in the celebration because overcoming it was the reason for being there Sunday at Savannah's annual Juneteenth event.
"This is an awesome time to celebrate that day that we consider the date of freedom,'' Lillian Grant-Baptiste said of the Juneteenth event. "It's the date that the last slaves in the United States were emancipated.''
The celebration was in word and song and dance, all elements of African-American culture Saturday at 38th Street Park, where lessons a century and a half in the making were just as pertinent today.
"We have to be about the business of building their self-esteem, their self-confidence, their self-worth, and self-determination so they can decide for themselves what kind of careers do they want to go into,'' said Dr. Midred McCalin, who spoke at the event. "And they can decide how they can serve their community, what do they want to do with their freedom because a lot of people paid a very serious price for it. So, it can't be taken lightly.''
Like the many Juneteenth events across the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry, there was a central message within Saturday's celebration.
"We come from a people who have endured tremendous obstacles but have managed to survive and not just survive but to thrive anyway,'' said Grant-Baptiste. "We stand because we stand on the shoulders of giants, that there were other people who came before us and paved the way for us, and as a people, we should never, ever forget that.''
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