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Juneteenth parade, program rescheduled for Saturday

The 2021 Brookhaven parade to celebrate Juneteenth has been rescheduled for Saturday, June 26, at 10 a.m.

The parade — postponed due to the threat of harsh weather from its original date of June 19 — will begin and end at A. L. Lott baseball field, according to NAACP #5268 president, the Rev. Dr. Rico Cain.

The parade will be followed by a “Celebrate Freedom” observance at A. L. Lott baseball field.

“We’ve had a lot of people, both white and black, getting involved and I’m just excited about it,” Cain said.

This year marks the first Juneteenth celebration since its inception in 1865 to be celebrated as a federal holiday. President Joe Biden signed legislation June 17 establishing the holiday — the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983 — and said he believes the legislation will be one of the greatest honors he has as POTUS.

“This is a day of profound weight and profound power, a day in which we remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take,” Biden said.

Juneteenth — also known as Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day or Emancipation Day — commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. That was also about 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the Southern states.

Congress passed the bill with only 14 “no” votes.

“I hope this is the beginning of a change in the way we deal with one another,” Biden said.

Cain said he hopes people will take the time to learn about Juneteenth and what it represents.

“I would like to see people get more educated about it,” said Cain. “They need to know what Juneteenth represents.”

The celebrations have occurred annually since 1865 with church- or festival-centered observances. Forty-eight states recognize Juneteenth, according to the Congressional Research Service, and most contemporary observances are local celebrations, like the one planned for Brookhaven.

No local organized celebration was observed in the city during 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, and people are happy and excited to celebrate this year, Cain said.

Costs to ride in the parade are $7 per ATV (no 4-wheelers), $10 per car and $15 per truck. For more information or to register for the parade, contact Cain at 601-754-9637 or committee chair Kychell Little at 601-320-4366.