By Malcolm Macon,
On June 17, 2022 in Jackson, Mississippi the Jackson/Hinds Library System held its tenth annual Juneteenth Celebration. The event was hosted by the Medgar Evers Branch Library and organized by Branch Manager Anne Sanders. It was sponsored by the library system as well as community leaders.
The celebration took place under trees and canopies outside the library as well as inside the air conditioned building. Hundreds of children attending listened to stories read to them about African-American culture.
Floyd Council, executive director of the Jackson/Hinds Library System, read to the children, as did Mississippi State Senator John Horhn. Handouts were passed around to the five hundred or so attendees, young and old, in order to distribute knowledge of the celebration of Juneteenth.
Attendees learned about Union General Gordon Granger arriving in Galveston, Texas with his troops where enslaved blacks would greet him and on June 19, 1865, General Orders Number 3 announced emancipation to one of the last large masses of enslaved folks to find out their enslavement was over.
Throughout the event there were numerous activities for the children to involve themselves in such as sit-down readings, puppet shows to demonstrate books, and multiple bouncy houses for the children to enjoy. Beverages and other refreshments were handed out to the children as they enjoyed the grilling cuisine from a local volunteer, Ronnie Kelly.
One of the very first Juneteenth organizers in the city local library is Anne Sanders. She has been building these events around the city for years, before many had started to celebrate it globally. Her goal has always been to evolve the young minds of youth for their future, by allowing them to be exposed to the truths of their past.
Event speakers included Bo Brown, Mississippi House of Representatives, District 70; Vernon Hartley, ,Jackson City Councilman, Ward 5; Dekeither Stamps, Mississippi House of Representative District 66, Tyree Jones, Hinds County Sheriff, Ethel Mangum, executive assistant to City Councilman Kenneth Stokes, Ward 3 and Eddie James, Jackson Fire Chief.
James, who was also a sponsor of the event said, “Involvement of the children is a good look for a better tomorrow. As long as the children of the community are at this event today there is hope that the youth could continue to inspire and motivate those after them.”
Mississippi singer Lil Walter entertained the crowd with a live performance of blues and R & B classics.
Representative Brown stated, “Hats off to Ann Sanders and her staff who did a great job in putting this event together. It was fun for the children, plenty of food for the adults, great music in the shade and great speakers. I was just happy to be a part of this Juneteenth event at the Medgar Evers Library.”
James Hampton, branch manager of the Eudora Welty Library, assisted with the event. He said, “Juneteenth is an event that has been going on in the Jackson Hinds Libraries for about ten years and organized by branch manager Ann Sanders. Since I used to work at this library, every time she calls me, I come right away.”
Hampton continued, “It is such an important event culturally. We are so happy to put it on and I am happy to help spread information about Juneteenth, the struggles of the past and about enslaved people finding out they were free.”
Sanders who admitted it had been a very busy day at the library said, “It was a wonderful event and I am still amazed at the turnout. We love putting on these types of events and we are going to make it even greater next year.”
See photos on back page.