Juneteenth celebrations spread awareness of important date

By Carolina Puga Mendoza

TheStatehouseFile.com 

FRANKLIN—The town of Franklin is creating a family event that will teach about Juneteeenth while celebrating the history of the day.  


For the second year, Franklin Equity and Justice Coalition, a nonprofit organization that works to create an inclusive community, will celebrate a Juneteenth Cel-Liberation with a 5K. 

Last year, the event took place as a teaching moment in the community and to support the Black Lives Matter movement. 

The first Juneteenth in Franklin saw a total of 100 people and consisted of teaching about the holiday as well as advocating for Black Lives Matter. This year, the event has expanded to include a 5K and family walk and live music and refreshments. Photo provided by Franklin Equity and Justice Coalition.

Co-founder of Franklin Equity and Justice Coalition Jessica Daudy-Hamm said she wasn’t aware of Juneteenth until a friend explained the importance it has in the African American community. She proceeded to learn about it and create an event that will teach and educate others in Franklin. 

“That is worth celebrating, so, you know, just kind of thinking about all the negative things that were happening, I just really wanted to create a space last year for the people in our community who are Black and African American to come and celebrate that day,” Daudy-Hamm said.

As of 2018, Franklin is a predominantly white town with 93.9% white and 1.2% Black residents, according to Data U.S.

While the celebration is not nationally recognized, according to Fox 59, Gov. Eric Holcomb declared Junteenth a holiday in Indiana starting in 2020. 

Candis Smith, a lecturer of African American and African diaspora studies at Indiana University, explained that Juneteenth (June 19th) is a celebration that originated in Texas and neighboring states commemorate it. 

It dates back to the Emancipation Proclamation of Pres. Abraham Lincoln when he began the abolition of slavery in the U.S. in 1863. However, the proclamation only abolished it in areas under Confederate control. After two and a half years of war, freedom reached almost every enslaved person in the U.S. after the passing of the 13th Amendment.

On June 19, 1865, Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger shared the news of the end of slavery in Texas, the last state to receive the announcement. This day is also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day. 

People of all backgrounds have shared their disappointment in learning about this historical moment so late in life, some after graduating high school or as adults. 

“Anything dealing with the history of African Americans gets ignored. But in celebrating this holiday, then we are shedding light on the true history of the United States,” Smith said. “Today, I think that [Juneteenth] unites all African Americans in the United States, and Black people around the world, because it is based on freedom. It is a celebration of our humanity as free black people. 

“Because African Americans were enslaved in this country, every chance that we get to celebrate freedom, we do.” 

This year Daudy-Hamm wanted to expand the celebration and draw more people to participate and learn about Juneteenth and raise awareness about its importance. 

The 5K run will start at 9 a.m., and there’s a cost of $20 per runner, which includes a granola bar and shirt among other goodies. After the run, a one-mile family walk will start. The event will take place on June 19 at Province Park in Franklin. 

Last year, Daudy-Hamm paid for the event out of pocket, but this year, the team and volunteers did fundraising by selling stickers and t-shirts. Additionally, First Merchants Bank donated $1,000 to the event. 

Similar to last year, there will be a guest speaker to talk about the importance of Juneteenth, and now DJ FlyTy will be there to get the celebration going, alongside refreshments and yard games. 

Those interested may sign up here. 

“I hope that more people see this as a way to get involved with other cultures. You know, just bringing inclusion, diversity, equity, access, all those things into Franklin because it’s just not here yet,” Daudy-Hamm said.  

“You know, I feel like we’re on the verge of getting there. But I want it to be so known that we are inclusive here in Franklin that anyone would want to move here.”

Among other Indiana events, the Indiana State Museum will offer free admission  June 5 to celebrate Juneteenth alongside music, activities, art and more. Indy Juneteenth Celebration will have something planned for the day at Riverside Park as well, with more information to come. 

Carolina Puga Mendoza is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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