Annual Juneteenth celebration canceled

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 11, 2010

NATCHEZ — What would have been the 16th annual Miss-Lou Juneteenth Celebration has been canceled due to lack of support.

Darrell White, director of the Natchez Association for the Preservation of Afro-American Culture Museum, said immediate plans are to restructure the celebration, which commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865 — two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

“There’s a lot of energy and effort that goes into these activities, and it’s disheartening when we don’t get an anticipated response,” White said. “This time around, Juneteenth wasn’t going to make it.”

White said he has fielded complaints about Juneteenth having no direct ties to Natchez. Slaves were not freed in Natchez until July 13, 1863, when Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant marched into Natchez with 5,000 federal troops after the fall of Vicksburg during the Civil War. Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation Jan. 1, 1863.

White said more than 3,000 of the troops who occupied Natchez were part of the United States Colored Troops regiments. Plans are under way for a seminar focusing on the USCT during the third annual Black and Blue Civil War Living History Camp in October.

“We are refocusing the whole activity. I’m not sure we’ll necessarily call it Juneteenth,” White said.

“We want to come up with something folks in this community will support. We have to come up with something to make everybody happy.”

Last year, Juneteenth was commemorated as part of a three-day celebration featuring a “Jumping June Freedom Jam” at the Natchez Community Center, a remembrance ceremony at the Forks of the Road slave market, a “Freedmen’s Cookout” at North Natchez Park and a closing ceremony at the NAPAC Museum.