Juneteenth, Dunbar Heights focus of proclamation

Vicky O. Misa
The Shawnee News-Star

In an uncommon move Monday, Shawnee Mayor Ed Bolt and Shawnee city commissioners all stepped away from the horseshoe to stand together with several representatives to commemorate Juneteenth and the Dunbar Heights Historic Neighborhood during the reading of his proclamation.

Bolt said the honor was significant and important, and its observation would be better served by the whole group's presence down front.

“Juneteenth is the oldest known annual observance commemorating the abolishment of slavery in the United States of America,” Bolt said. “The Juneteenth Independence celebration dates back to June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger led Union soldiers into Galveston, Texas. It was there that Union soldiers delivered news that the Civil War had ended and enslaved Black Americans within any state were free.”

Shawnee city commissioners gathered with residents Monday to commemorate Juneteenth and the Dunbar Heights Neighborhood. From left are Jamelle Payne, Shawnee City Commissioner Mark Sehorn, Shawnee City Commissioner Darren Rutherford, (in the background is Shawnee City Commissioner Ben Salter), Timmy Young, Gloria Wallace, Shawnee Mayor Ed Bolt, the Rev. Darryl Fields, Shawnee City Commissioner Daniel Matthews, Rick Young, Shawnee City Commissioner Bob Weaver and Shawnee City Commissioner Travis Flood.

Juneteenth became a celebration of freedom, community, and culture, he said.

“Today, Juneteenth takes on a symbol of pride in Black American experiences and ancestral roots,” Bolt read from the proclamation.

The Dunbar Heights Historic Neighborhood is home to a long-standing tradition of Shawnee’s Black American heritage, he said, and the City of Shawnee seeks to observe this historic anniversary with the Dunbar Heights Historic Neighborhood and Shawnee’s Black community in the spirit of camaraderie and equality for all citizens.

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The Juneteenth celebration embodies the American ideals of freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as they extend to all people, the document states.

“I proclaim the seventh day of June, 2021, to commemorate Juneteenth and the Dunbar Heights Historic Neighborhood,” he said.

An all-day celebration event is planned for June 19.

Watch for updates.

For story ideas, questions or concerns, reporter Vicky O. Misa can be reached at vicky.misa@news-star.com.