Locals to celebrate Juneteenth this weekend

Published 11:39 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2009

NATCHEZ — This weekend, in a sense, a little bit of history will repeat itself.

On June 19, 1867, 8,000 freed slaves gathered on the Natchez Bluff to celebrate their new freedom, and this weekend is the Miss-Lou’s 15th annual Juneteenth celebration, where celebrations of the past are revived.

Friday is the Jumping June Freedom Jam dance at the Natchez Community Center. The Krewe of Mer sponsors the event. Admission is $10.

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A traditional libation ceremony, sponsored by the friends of the Forks of the Road, is at 10 a.m. Saturday.

“This is a salute to our ancestors, held at the Forks of the Road, where a large number of Natchez’s community of African decent can trace their heritage,” said Darrell White, director of the Natchez Association for the Preservation of African American Culture Museum. “It will be led by Ser Sesh Ab Heter-C.M. Boxley.

“This event is important, because we are one community with a shared history, and all aspects of the community need to be told.”

From 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. will be the Freedman’s Cookout and Family Fun day at the North Natchez Park Youth Center.

A dedication of the Richard Wright Exhibit Hall and the Finley Collection of West African and southern folk art will be on display will be at 3 p.m. Sunday at the NAPAC Museum.

“We were fortunate to have our Richard Wright Exhibit Hall designated as a Literary Landmark by the friends of Library USA.” White said. “We are focusing on the connection between Wright’s travels to the west coast of Africa in 1954 where he wrote the book ‘Black Power,’ which focused on the changes going on as the countries gained their autonomy from colonization.”

“The Finley Collection, a 300-piece collection of West African art, is an example of what Wright viewed when he visited the African continent.”

The Juneteenth Celebration is Friday through Sunday, and is recreating the celebration of emancipation from June 19, 1865.

“It is hard for people to be excited about this community’s rich African history when they know very little about it, and the mission of NAPAC is to research and provide information for present day Natchez and the world to embrace,” White said.