By Janice K. Neal-Vincent, Ph.D.,
Juneteenth, the second day of independence, honors the end of slavery in the United States. President Joe Biden signed a bill last year that officially recognizes the occasion as a federal holiday.
The Richard Schwartz & Associates Jackson Expo presented by Atmos Energy featured a number of activities that took place on the church grounds and inside the walls of New Horizon Church International (1770 Ellis Avenue, Jackson, Miss.) in celebration of the holiday (Friday, June 17-Sunday, June 19). Crowds consisting of families, friends and curiosity-seekers came out, mingled, ate delicious food and enjoyed the festivities.
On Saturday afternoon Bishop Ronnie Crudup Sr., pastor of New Horizon Church International, officiated a Jumping the Broom ceremony for two couples who exchanged marital vows, held hands and jumped over a broom to seal their union. Jumping the Broom ceremony has its origin in Ghana, West Africa.
Saturday night Grady Champion from Canton rocked the crowd with songs such as Down Home Blues and Make That Monkey Jump. Vickie Baker from Shreveport, Louisiana sang a song she wrote entitled Got to Ride it.
It was legendary blues musician Bobby Rush, whose concerts are slated for a mature audience, who rocked the crowd with his style of blues, rap and funk.
“Thank you for coming. I’m so thankful to see some things happen to me where I live. I have 397 shows. Three years ago, I won my first Grammy. November 10th I’ll be 88 years old. I feel so good.”
Rush then belched the tunes: That’s Evil; I Ain’t Studdin’ Ya; I’m a Hoochie Coochie Man and Chicken Heads. While gyrating across the stage, the crowd occasionally rose while clapping and rocking to the beats.
In closing his act, the crowd-pleaser reflected: “There are three things that come out of Juneteenth: economic accountability and prosperity; Sunday School and Soul Food Sunday Dinner.”
Ellis Avenue from Interstate 20 to West Capitol Street will carry the name of Bobby Rush based upon a proposal by The Jackson City Council.
Locals highlighted Sunday evening’s worship.
Empire star, Miss Tiffany, with her ministry designed for hippies through language and dynamic performance, rendered her poetic performance which addressed alimony, child support and infidelity.
“I’m not supposed to be walking because I had an aneurism on my brain 10 years ago, [but] the redeemer will walk and talk with you,” testified gospel singer Paul Porter who pulled the audience into the songs: He’s Been Good to Me, Two Wings and If There’s No Tomorrow.
The New Horizon Church choir lifted their voices in praise. Other choirs, New Jerusalem Church and Anderson United Methodist Church also moved the crowd with songs they sang.
Bringing matters home was the featured Mississippi Mass Choir, a landmark for 34 years. During the night’s live recording, the choir moved the audience to their feet as they belched out: He’s Worthy to be Praised; We Worship Christ Our Lord and It’s Good to Know Jesus. The Mississippi Mass Choir has produced 12 albums. In October they will record their 13th album.
Several persons reacted to the weekend’s celebration.
Tyrone Hickman II, a member of New Horizon, expressed his view of the Juneteenth Expo: “I am so glad that we can have things like this. As you know, Jackson is not a place you want to be [in the dark], but I’m glad we can enjoy good music and get together at this time. [I thank God and all who put it together.”
“This program has been the inspiration and the uplift I need while coming out of the dark days of the pandemic and the present state of gloom in this country. It reminded me that God is still keeping me,” said Cecil A. Blue.
Sponsors of the Juneteenth Expo included Mississippi Urban League; Make it Better Foundation; New Horizon Church International; Atmos Energy; WAPT; WOAD; Bancorp South; Amazon; Open Arms Health Energy; Hinds County Health Department; 95.7 Hallelujah FM – Memphis; Hinds County Board of Supervisors; I-Heart Ministries; Magnolia Health; City of Jackson, Miss.; Renaissance Bank; Trustmark Bank; Hope Credit Union and Mississippi Goodwill Festival.