BLUFFTON, S.C. (WTOC) -Juneteenth celebrations continued throughout the weekend across the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry. People across the nation commemorate the end of slavery every June 19th.
Bluffton Town Council members declared Juneteenth as an official town holiday They held their sixth annual Juneteenth celebration on Saturday.
“It’s a celebration of my people, it’s a celebration of the sacrifices that they made, it’s a celebration of the lives that were lost that fought,” says Desiree Bailey, an activist attending the Juneteenth celebration.
Juneteenth is the day in 1865 that slaves in Texas learned they were free, more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Juneteenth means to be just my freedom and freedom is the power to act, speak, and think on your own accord with no hindrance,” said Bailey. “Juneteenth really gave that to the Black people.”
Fast forward more than 100 years later and the celebrations continue through art, music and even food.
“It means that you can be free and you can do whatever you want and play with your friends; anything,” said Naomi Campbell.
“It was the acknowledgment and really the recognition for such a long time for the enslaved people to finally be free on paper,” said Bridgette Frazier, president of the Bluffton MLK committee.
Frazier said although all enslaved people in the United States weren’t officially granted their freedom until the 13th amendment on December 6th, 1865, it’s still a step in the right direction.
“We know that there’s still oppression and systemic racism that exists, but just that acknowledgment that the country was taken up that idea that slavery would be abolished and that people could no longer be held captive and bound and chains and treated less than humans,” she said.
She said though it was a historic movement in time for Black people, the fight for equality is far from over.
“The fight continues, we know that they were emancipated, and that ratification happened in 1865 but the struggle continues,” Frazier said. “It’s not just about Black and I think that gets lost in translation for those who don’t want to understand what change really means.”
She said they’re hoping more local, state, and federal government agencies will also start to recognize the holiday, helping to promote even more change for years to come.