Flag raised at joyous ceremony
Elected officials, civic leaders, and residents gathered outside City Hall Monday, June 7 to inaugurate Philadelphia’s celebration of Juneteenth this year.
A red, white, and blue flag adorned with special Juneteenth symbols was raised on a flagpole outside the Northeast corner of City Hall, North Broad Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard. The flag bears a white star signaling the original event place in Texas, the “lone star” state. A halo surrounds the star symbolizes a nova or new star of freedom for blacks in every state.
The flag also bears the date of June 19, 1865, when slaves in Texas were finally informed that they were free under the terms of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation announced January 1, 1863, and the capitulation of the Confederacy on April 22, 1865. In fact, full emancipation did not officially happen in Texas until a proclamation in August 1966. Over 200,000 Black troops fought for the North to achieve the Civil War victory – which cost the lives of over 617,000 soldiers.
Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson presented an official citation from City Council recognizing the event as part of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation which is holding similar celebrations across the nation this month.
Scheduled to perform before the event were the Universal Dance and Drum Ensemble’s UCC Brass Band; Henry McMillan of UGO, and Evelyn Graves Drama Productions which would lead the attendees in “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black National Anthem.
Spearheading the special moment was the Philadelphia Juneteenth Family, Inc. which is raising cultural awareness, cross-cultural exchange, and interest in the African diaspora. The Family is sponsoring other Juneteenth events including an essay contest for children and the “Garvey Freedom Lights” Project which will light up buildings in Center City from June 13 to 19.
(Information for this article was kindly provided by Vincent Thompson, Communications Director for Councilman Johnson)