The 2010 Juneteenth Celebration cheered freedom, accomplishment, and respect for all cultures at Freedom Park June 19. In its seventh year, the annual event brought people together to celebrate General Gordon Granger's proclamation, "…all slaves are free."
Pioneers of Our Past Awards were presented to Ms. Everlyn Swales Holland, whose civil rights and pro-community actions in St. Mary's County garnered recognition, and Ms. Lucille Clifton, an influential poet and educator whose "Sharing Our Stories, Building Our Community" project inspired St. Mary's students to explore and share their histories. Crofton, Maryland's Poet Laureate 1979-1985, passed away in Feb. 2010.
A rousing invocation by Great Mills High School graduate and NAS Pax Command Chaplain Christilene Whalen and recognitions of support by Dr. Janice Walthour got the program rolling. Local leaders, like Commissioner President Jack Russell, Delegate John Bohanan and Sen. Roy Dyson shared comments of support for Juneteenth and hosts, the Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions.
Dyson announced the passing of a bond bill which will supply funding for the long-in-the-works United States Colored Troops and Union Veterans of the Civil War Memorial. While fundraising continues, Juneteenth Event Coordinator and UCAC Vice President Mike Brown said he hoped the monument could be completed by next Veteran's Day.
Attendees were treated to an array of entertainment. A high-energy performance by Soul In Motion, an African dance and drum group got the audience moving. The crowd also enjoyed performances by R & B group Winfield Parker and Praise, The New Briscoe Brothers, the Southern Md. Community Gospel Choir, First Missionary Baptist Church Youth Choir, and D.C. jazz artist Jaared.
Kids enjoyed shows by Super Magic Man Reggie Rice and health educator and motivational rap artist No Puff Daddy, whose show encouraged youngsters to get active and eat well. They were also treated to balloon animals, sweet treats and horse rides, thanks to Antonio and Paula Lunsford of Bowie.
A true community event, booths with information from the library, the health department, Dept. of Aging, museums, churches and other groups let citizens know about the great programs in St. Mary's County. Many picked up tasty eats from the food vendors and shopped for a variety of wares.
In accepting recognition for the longstanding support of Lott Enterprises of Md., Inc., UCAC Founder Elmer Brown talked about the many stones gathered for the African-American Monument that is the centerpiece of Freedom Park. He encouraged citizens to participate in the Buy-a-brick program, saying,