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Thomasville makes Juneteenth an official city holiday, prepares celebrations

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 10:23 PM EDT
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THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - Juneteenth is now an official holiday in the city of Thomasville and the city is preparing for activities now.

Juneteenth is celebrated every June 19 and is also called Freedom Day.

Ucher Dent, the director of the nonprofit No More Shackles, got emotional when the city declared Juneteenth a city holiday.

Ucher Dent of No More Shackles, is helping to organize the 2021 Juneteenth celebration in...
Ucher Dent of No More Shackles, is helping to organize the 2021 Juneteenth celebration in Thomasville.(WALB)

“I cried because this is something that, Juneteenth has been dear to my heart for the past four or five years when I stumbled across it,” said Dent.

Dent partnered with the city and others to organize Thomasville’s first Juneteenth celebration a couple of years ago.

“We weren’t expecting it to get as big as it did in 2019,” explained Dent.

City Council Member Wanda Warren pushed for the action. She said it was time to acknowledge the holiday on a wider scale and set an example for other communities.

“With Juneteenth being the oldest celebration honoring the end of slavery in the U.S., it’s important to be a catalyst in celebrating this for our city,” said Warren.

City offices will close or have limited hours. Government offices are tasked to work on an education campaign ahead of Juneteenth.

“A few people have already stated they just didn’t know about Juneteenth, but they have learned a lot during this whole process because a lot of city employees are helping us with commemoration and activities planned,” explained Warren.

One of the biggest activities will take place at Douglas High School.

Dent said there’s something for everyone.

“Ninety vendors, we’ll also have a car show, live entertainment, we have a band coming from Albany, the Essence Band, they will be coming, we have two other worship groups that are coming, horseback riding. So, we’ll have something for the children, we’ll have a trivia hunt,” said Dent.

June 19, 1865, was the day when most slaves found out they were free. The Emancipation Proclamation actually passed two years earlier.

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