HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Hannibal will mark its 23rd annual Juneteenth Freedom Celebration with a weeklong series of activities.
Juneteenth is a nationwide festival celebrating African American freedom. It is celebrated in cities across the nation in connection with the remembrance of June 19, 1865, as the day when Union solders landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that the slaves were free.
Faye Dant, founder and director of Jim's Journey: The Huck Finn Freedom Center in Hannibal -- the first black history museum in Northeast Missouri -- said she finds herself answering the same question every year: "What is Juneteenth?" So she posted the following comment on the Jim's Journey Facebook page:
"I might scream if I hear that question again or if I have to answer the question why celebrate it. Does anyone ask why we celebrate the 4th, Thanksgiving or Christmas? I'm just saying. After 400 years of enslavement I am going to scream and shout in celebration of freedom, and I'd think you would want to join in the celebration."
The following series of events will be held this week in Hannibal to celebrate Juneteenth:
º 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, at the Mark Twain Museum Gallery, 205 N. Main, sponsored by the Hannibal Free Public Library: "We Stand United," a puppetry group founded by Marsha Mayfield, will kick off Juneteenth celebration week with an event geared for families.
º 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, at Willow Street Christian Church, sponsored by Jim's Journey: the Huck Finn Freedom Center: A film will be presented featuring the Rev. William Barber and his presentation, "Jesus Fought Injustice, He Did Not Join It," from his Moral Movement series.
º 7 p.m. Thursday, June 20, at the Mark Twain Museum: Representatives from Jim's Journey: the Huck Finn Freedom Center will operate a food booth at the "Music Under the Stars" event and will also be giving out free slices from a "Freedom Cake."
º 1 p.m. Saturday, June 22, at the F&M Bank annex, 512 Church St.: Darrell and Phyllis Dean of Canton will give a program, "School's Out," explaining how their family led a recent fund-raising campaign and performed the construction work to renovate the interior of the historic Lincoln School, a former all-black school in Canton that was closed in 1955 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregated schools were illegal. The school is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
All Juneteenth activities are free and open to the public.
More information is available on Jim's Journey: The Huck Finn Freedom Center's Facebook page.