By Kendall Patterson
As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to be pressed on the society, more and more U.S. citizens have become aware of the long-running African American holiday Juneteenth.
Juneteenth, short for June 19, is the celebration of honoring the end of slavery in the United States. June 19 was the day federal troops entered Galveston, Texas in 1865 to make sure all enslaved people became free. This is a two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation declared all slaves of the Confederate states free on January 1, 1863.
Henderson/Chester County residents came together to have this celebration of African American freedom at the North Chester soccer field.
This celebration, organized by the Oasis Community Development Corporation, was the first of many to come said Oasis Founder Rev. Marles Flowers.
“Our intention was to gather our people together to give them an awakening to where we’ve come from and where we’re hopefully going,” Flowers said.
This event had gospel performances that moved audience members and performers themselves as they thought of where God has brought them. Flowers said that the gospel songs were a vital part of the gathering.
“I think that was very key. Music is something that we, as a people, are moved by,” he said.
It was time of unity for the kids as one could see kids of color and white playing on the field together.
Even the younger generation was impacted by the celebration according to Rev. Barbara Fitzhugh of Mount Zion Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Henderson who was also the speaker the event.
“I got feedback from my grand children… and they were so excited. They were wanting to make signs. They were starting to understand what it means when we say black lives matter,” Fitzhugh said.
It was also a time of encouraging people of the black community of Henderson to take action and vote if they want to see a change in their community. In order for them to make more informed decisions at the booths this year, Flowers allowed different politicians, both in office and running for election, to speak.
“This whole event is to galvanize our people and to organize the community so that as a voice, we can speak to the city officials and the county officials that we may get the resources and gain access to the flow of resources that come through the city,” Flowers said.
His wife Sylvia Flowers expressed that their voices are beginning to be heard to make a difference.
“Chester County has to know now that we’re here. We’re here and our voices will be heard and now a change is coming. It has come to make the difference here in Chester” she said.
The next day, black people were seen making their voices heard in the streets as they marched from North Chester to the Chester County Courthouse.
The march was organized by the Black Coalition of Henderson.
“No justice, no peace” was chanted along with “Black lives matter” and “I’m black and I’m proud” as they marched down Main Street. The group even shouted the names of those lost from racial injustices of white police officers.
After the march, they continued to speak out in front of the courthouse, encouraged each other to tell their family and friends to vote and prayed.
A girl in the community was active in the march as she held up “Black Lives Matter” sign during the march and participated in the chants.
Rev. Barbara Fitzhugh of Mount Zion C.M.E. Church prayed at the Courthouse for the movement that is taking place and for people to vote.
Quadarius and The Divine Voices gospel group performed at the first annual Henderson Juneteenth celebration.