Citizens commemorate Juneteenth with celebration in Calumet Park

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, June 22, 2021

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Rainy weather didn’t stop the Juneteenth celebration at Calumet Park on Saturday.

Juneteenth recognizes the end of slavery in the United States as the day when Union soldiers finally reached Galveston, Texas following the end of the Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation.

“We know that the struggle for civil rights didn’t end in 1865. But in 1865, at the ending of the slavery in the United States as a legal institution — that was one of the great mileposts in the history of our nation,” said LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton. “The history of our nation has been about the expansion of liberty.”

President Joe Biden recently signed legislation marking Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

“I’m just very excited that the United States government has recognized this day and is commemorating it,” said LaGrange Councilman Nathan Gaskin.

“But more so than that, I think it’s a good day for people to reflect on their own freedoms and the privilege it is to be free … There are several countries where people don’t have freedoms.”

Several vendors and organizations set up booths along the periphery of the grass field. Among them were the NAACP, Peach Plush Boutique, Groundswell, OnTrack Staffing, UGA Extension, The People’s Agenda, Cakes & Desserts by Catherine, Bare Charm, Piney Woods Farm, Ziggy’s Mobile Kitchen, Liquid Lipo With Kish, and independent Mary Kay beauty consultant Betty Jean Kelley.

Other speakers at the event included East Coweta High science teacher Christopher Bolling, Troup County Board of Commissioners Chairman Patrick Crews; executive director of Trustbuilding Inc.

Chalton Askew; the Rev. Michael Stiggers Sr. of East Side Baptist Church and his wife, Coweta County educator Cheryl Stiggers; Police Chief Lou Dekmar of the LaGrange Police Department; Kevin Littlefield, chairman of the Troup County Democratic Party; and Major Keith Flory of the Troup County Sheriff’s Office.

The Daughters of Thunder dance troupe performed a dance, and Denita Woodyard sang “Walk With Me.”