by Sara Putnam, Contributing Writer

PASS CHRISTIAN (GG) — The city of Pass Christian hosted the annual Juneteenth celebration at War Memorial Park Saturday, June 15 in honor of the courageous individuals who fought for the abolishment of slavery among African Americans.

Juneteenth was not officially recognized as a holiday until 2021; which to many, was shocking based on historical significance for everyone affected. While June 19th commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people, it also marks the beginning to an end of a very dark period in The United States.

While Mississippi was one of the last states to ratify the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution, it has also been one of several states to not yet recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. Previously, this holiday was celebrated on a much smaller scale but over the course of several years, it has gained increased public recognition.

Before the afternoon celebration at War Memorial Park, the day started out at The Randolph Center with an outpouring of touching words by guest speaker, former member of the Mississippi State House and Pass Christian Alum Sonya Williams-Barnes along with inspiring music by guest vocalist, Jamion Burney for brunch.

“Freedom ain’t free,” as stated in Williams-Barnes’ speech, is a mantra that reminds us of the previous and even ongoing sacrifices made in order to achieve complete equality and freedom for African Americans.  During the brunch, six different people were acknowledged for adjectives they embody. The recipients were as follows: Mrs. Elizabeth Joseph-Nurturing, Mrs. Marion Hamilton-Unity, Mrs Madeline Smith-Unity, Mr. George Watson-Tenacity, Mr. Rickey Lewis-Resilience, and Mr. Theodore Lawyer, Esq.-Community.

Members of the Pass Christian Community gathered at War Memorial Park in the afternoon to enjoy more music, food, a variety of vendors, and the beautiful scenic view. The members of Goodwill Memorial Baptist Church Choir performed an angelic variety of gospel music that lifted the spirits of all and gave thanks to God.

Additionally, this was a way for everyone to embrace and appreciate the cultural tradition that has seen centuries of worship among the African American community. The vendors came from all over the coast and even states as far as Texas to enjoy the serenity of Pass Christian and join in on its unique way of bringing citizens together.  

Juneteenth in the Pass Chair Kimberly Joseph has been working alongside several others to put together the event that celebrates the freedom of slaves as well as the African Americans within the community who have touched countless hearts and have made continual impacts.

(Photos by Sara Putnam/The Gazebo Gazette)