Celebrate Juneteenth virtually at the Jepson

Juneteenth at the Jepson, Tybee

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - We are gradually trying to get back to opening things up, but many things are still safer by trying to do things online. That’s the case as we approach a historic day, as the Juneteenth will be a virtual celebration at the Jepson this year.

Friday marks an important date in American History. It’s been 155 years since the official end of slavery in the entire US.

“In these times, I think that it’s important to remember freedom, is what Juneteenth celebrates, and also to remember it here in the city of Savannah,” Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum Director Vaughnette Goode-Walker said.

Goode-Walker likes to point out the role Savannah played and the city’s history at the end of slavery here. That came in December of 1864, at the end of Sherman’s March to the Sea and Savannah. Then 20, black ministers met with Sherman and other officers at the Green Meldrum house, an important time when the field order number 15 was issued, now known by a different name.

“The forty acres and a mule came out of a speech delivered at the Second African Baptist Church in February of 1865, and that speech was delivered by General Saxon, who had been appointed by Sherman as the Director of Plantations. In that speech, he actually advised these African people about how much land forty acres would be, he told them if they took four hundred steps in one direction, and four hundred steps in another direction, they’d have their forty acres, and I love that line because he also adds, ‘and make sure you take long strides.’”

Now Goode-Walker will be part of a virtual lecture of the Telfair Museum, trying to keep the history of Juneteenth alive, and the importance of it locally, saying this isn’t just Black History, it’s American History.

“It’s not just the people in Savannah, it’s Savannah’s history, and I think it’s more important for young people to know this history.”

“It’s really amazing, because here we are, a hundred and fifty plus years later, almost back at the same point again, redefining our position in America, everybody, so it’s important that we know this history that we know the organization of what was happening after the American Civil War, we know the organization and what happened after 1965, from 1865 to 1965 the changes that were made here in this country, that’s American History.”

Mark Twain may have said it best, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”

You can sign up for the Juneteenth celebration and lecture online at the Telfair Museum’s website or on Facebook. The free lecture begins at 5 p.m. Thursday. Dr. Alvin Jackson is the main lecturer. The Jepson Center will also offer free admission for families July 17 to 19.

Copyright 2020 WTOC. All rights reserved.