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The entire 500 block of Nash Street E. will be blocked off for the third annual Juneteenth celebration on June 8 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Presented by Mount Hebron Masonic Lodge No. 42, the event will include musical entertainment, a children’s bounce house area, food trucks and vendors, line dancers and steppers, and a Juneteeth awareness program. “Juneteenth: A Day of Remembrance” is free and open to the public.
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Although 2 1/2 years had passed since President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became official, the Union Army did not have the number of troops in place in Texas to enforce the law. The arrival of General Granger’s regiment provided that manpower.
“This is a part of history, and we don’t want those who come behind us to forget it,” said Raymond Renfrow, secretary of Mount Hebron Masonic Lodge No. 42. “This is not because of fearing that it will be repeated, but just that they know it happened.”
Congressman G.K. Butterfield will attend and speak about Juneteeth and its historical relevance.
Entertainment includes Maurice Wynn, playing Southern soul music, and Making a Difference, a popular Wilson group. Church choirs will also perform.
Food vendors will offer a wide range of food and drinks, including smoked turkey legs by the Mount Hebron Masonic Lodge No. 42 that have become a huge draw at Wilson’s annual N.C. Whirligig Festival.
Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in 45 states. Wilson County is one of eight counties in North Carolina that hold Juneteenth celebrations.
Wilson Juneteenth program sponsors are the city’s parks and recreation and human relations departments, the Wilson Police Department, Self Help Credit Union, Loyal Leisure Senior Citizens Club and Dupree Lawn Care.