Hattiesburg residents celebrate Juneteenth

Juneteenth means myriad things to different people.
Published: Jun. 19, 2022 at 11:07 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Juneteenth may have become a federal holiday for the first time in 2022.

But for millions, Juneteenth has been observed for the past few centuries as one of the most cherished days on the African American calendar.

“Juneteenth is very important, very important,” said Lorraine Bates, as she reminisced Sunday on the hardships she went through as a little girl..

“I am so glad that we have a federal holiday.”

Hattiesburg residents spent the weekend coming out to Vernon Dahmer Park to celebrate African American freedom

“I’d say Juneteenth is important because it was the end of slavery,” Fredrick Evans said. “It’s important to come out and keep (the celebration) going, though we were shut down for two years because of COVID.

“But we’ve got to come out and keep the memory going.”

For some at the park, Juneteenth means remembering everything.

“We could not go to their bathroom, we could not drink out of their water fountain,” said Bates, as she looked back what she endured growing up. “When I was protesting, I was spit on, in the face. I can still feel that slobber on my face.”

Bates spent her Juneteenth placing signs of revolutionary African Americans across the park who fought or died for the rights of all black people.

As Juneteenth weekend wraps up, Bates felt it was important to let all black people know who they really are.

“Black people don’t realize that they are kings and queens because they came from kings and queens,” Bates said. “Once you learn your history, you’ll feel so much better about yourself and start standing up for yourself.”

The observance will continue Monday in the City of Hattiesburg with the running of the Juneteenth 5K, starting at 7 a.m. at the downtown train depot.

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