First week-long Juneteenth celebration begins in QC

June  09, 2014

      Shouting, applause, and people filled the pews of Grace City Baptist Church in Moline yesterday. Members of the church and United Neighbors gathered to celebrate "Juneteenth," one of the oldest celebrations marking the end of slavery in the United States. 

      Reverend Dwight Ford began the celebration with a sermon about truth, freedom, and responsibility. Ida Johnson, head of the Juneteenth Committee, hopes the celebration will be an occasion for people in the Quad Cities to learn about African-American history.

      "African-American history, in some people's minds, is something to cover up, be afraid of, be ashamed of. Things happen, and if we don't know from where we came from, we're not going to know where we're going." 

      Johnson says this is the first time United Neighbors has organized a week-long Juneteenth celebration. The event will feature a music festival, a film screening, and discussions about faith and community-building.

      June 19th, 1865 was the day when Union soldiers informed slaves in Texas they'd been declared free nearly 2 ½ years earlier.