Juneteenth 2024

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Last June, in keeping with St. Paul’s commitment to begin to intentionally address issues of racial reconciliation, justice and healing within our community, for the first time, St. Paul’s celebrated Juneteenth with an all parish event.

Volunteers Needed! Sign up HERE!

Some History:

For those not familiar with the celebration, June 19, 1865, is the day when a Union general rode in to Galveston, Texas to inform the city that the institution of slavery had ended and that all enslaved people were from that moment, free. This should not have been a surprise to the enslaved African Americans of Texas since President Lincoln had in fact already issued a proclamation two years earlier, on Jan 1, 1863, liberating all enslaved persons living in Confederate states. But the order carried little weight in Texas, where there were few Union soldiers to enforce it, and where, according to Annette Gordon-Reed in her book On Juneteenth, despite the formal surrender of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee two months earlier, the Confederate army continued fighting until mid -May. Many of the enslaved persons in that state therefore continued working for their enslavers, but others we are told by Annette Gordon-Reed “knew the gist of the general order prior to June 19, as Galveston, the largest city in Texas was a port city through which most of the cotton picked and processed in the state was shipped out to the world.” And she stresses, “port cities are prefect vehicles for transmission of information to people of all degrees of literacy.” Ms. Gordon-Reed herself a Texan says: “Two days before General Granger arrived on the island, Black men working  on the wharves began to shout in exultation. When asked what they were celebrating, they replied, because they were free.” The news began to spread to other towns but the enslaved had to be careful about openly celebrating as “White in Texas were incensed by what had transpired so much so that some reacted violently to the Blacks’ display of joy at emancipation.” Nevertheless, once the announcement was made in 1865, African Americans in Texas and elsewhere in the United States began to celebrate the day. Though acknowledged by some 47 states and the district of Columbia, it is only in 2021 Juneteenth was made a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.

Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom, emphasizes education and achievement, and celebrates African American culture. It is a day, a week, and in some areas, a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics, and family gatherings.

Juneteenth 2024

As we prepare to celebrate Juneteenth 2024 we want to remind ourselves of the significance of the Day and what freedom means especially to the enslaved and their descendants who were denied that liberation for close to 400 years and continue to clamor for true justice and equity.

Our contribution this year will be through our 9 and 11 services and our celebration which will begin at 12.30 p.m. in our Undercroft. Like last year, we will reflect on the significance of the day and celebrate together through our radical hospitality and a program that reflects on what freedom looks like for each of us through the showing of film His Truth is Marching On, a brief musical documentary which covers the twists, turns, and evolutionary phases of American music from 1619 to hip-hop, as told through the popular civil war song, ”John Brown’s Body.” Followed by a discussion and games which promise some beautiful prizes. There will be no coffee hour that day, as instead we will have a huge potluck celebration which we call “Food of Our Fathers” where we invite each of you to bring a dish from the cultural  heritage of your forefathers, particularly your fathers, in honor of Father’s Day. It can also just be a dish handed down in your family from one generation to the other. We will also have music to celebrate the Day which will feature our own Choristers and students from the Daniela Gongora Music Academy (located here at St. Paul’s). We will also feature the music of drummers featured in the film and a Harriet Tubman reenactor. The afternoon promises to be one to remember.

We are hoping that everyone will come and spend part of the afternoon in the celebration.

We need volunteers to serve in many ways:

1. To help  underwrite our costs for this year as this was not a budgeted item. The planning Committee has underwritten some of the costs from their own pockets, but we are looking for support from the congregation. We are trying to raise $500.00 dollars to pay for the drummers and the  re-enactors who are coming specially to participate in our celebration. Any contribution is greatly appreciated.

2. We would also like to know in advance if you will be bringing a dish. If you could include the name of the dish and maybe a brief written explanation to  display in front of the dish on the serving table. The sign-up sheet will be out on Sunday after each service just waiting for you to add your name.

3. Volunteers are also needed on the day of the event to help with set-up, serving and cleanup. There will be a sign up sheet for that as well starting this Sunday. Gail Bindley-Taylor and Nikkya Hargrove are spearheading these efforts please feel free to be in touch with either of them or with Rosemary Dellinger who will be organizing the meal.

Stay tuned to for updates on the event in the weekly announcements. We look forward to your involvement.

With Gratitude,

Gail Bindley Taylor
Co-Chair, Juneteenth Planning Committee

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