Less than a week after Gov. Ralph Northam announced plans to make it a state holiday, a Juneteenth celebration was held on Friday at the First United Baptist Church in Gloucester, recognizing the day on June 19 in 1865 when word finally reached enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas that the Civil War was over and they were now free.
A joint effort of the church and CircleUp Middle Peninsula, the celebration included speeches and prayers by church and CircleUp members and songs by the church’s Praise Team.
The Rev. Dr. Melissa Mason, who serves on the Mathews County Board of Supervisors, spoke forcefully of her grandparents having been raised in slavery on Mathews County’s Auburn Plantation, and of a great-grandmother who was one year old when Abraham Lincoln was elected and three when southern slaves were declared free by his Emancipation Proclamation. She said that by the end of the war there were 200,000 black Union soldiers, and that the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Co...
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