Editorial: Want to know what Juneteenth is? Here's your opportunity

You may have heard something recently about Juneteenth and wondered what it is.

This weekend in Dalton you can find out firsthand, starting Friday.

According to the Dalton-Whitfield chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), "Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States and is celebrated throughout the country. It is a partial/full state holiday or an official observance in 45 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. On June 19, 1865, General Order No. 3 was read in Galveston, Texas, freeing over 250,000 slaves left in bondage in Texas. The word Juneteenth derives from combination of the month and the date that abolition of slavery was announced, 'June' and 'nineteenth.'"

The Dalton-Whitfield chapter has organized a Juneteenth celebration locally, said to be the first here, with the theme "A Celebration of Freedom." Several events are planned.

• Friday: Basketball games with youth, local churches and organizations at the Mack Gaston Community Center, starting at 7 p.m.

• Saturday: A parade in downtown Dalton starting at 10 a.m. The parade will begin at First Baptist Church of Dalton and end at the Emery Center, Dalton's African American Heritage and Multicultural Center. Following the parade, the Emery Center will offer free tours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be a gala at the community center at 6 p.m. with music, entertainment and food. The guest speaker is Leslie Rogers, a former Dalton-Whitfield NAACP member and social worker. Tickets are $20.

• Sunday: A carnival and other activities for all ages at the community center beginning at 1 p.m. Vendors will sell food, clothing, jewelry and other items.

If you are interested in being a vendor, purchasing gala tickets or participating in any of the activities, you are asked to contact Marisa Kelley at (913) 426-7870.

We believe this is an exciting opportunity for area residents to experience a Juneteenth celebration and to learn more about this celebration. This local celebration is said to have originated with Antoine Simmons, the former president of the local NAACP, who said, "It will continue to enrich our community with history and culture that can teach us how to value each other's humanity."

That is a very worthy goal indeed.

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