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Juneteenth celebrated at the Capitol

West Virginia Press Association Staff Report

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The City of Charleston, on Saturday, celebrated the Juneteenth holiday with the annual festival at the State Capitol Complex. Presented by the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs (HHOMA), the celebration was headlined by performances from Raheem DeVaughn and Glenn Jones. 

The federal holiday of Juneteenth, officially known as “Juneteenth National Independence Day,” commemorates the end of slavery within the United States. Major General Gordon Granger – on June 19, 1865 – issued the final order of enforcement to the Confederate States of the Emancipation Proclamation. The final order was given in the State of Texas at the end of the American Civil War. 

The earliest Juneteenth celebrations date back to 1866, with Texas formally recognizing the day as a state holiday in 1938. In 1979, federal legislation required that every state, as well as the District of Columbia, recognize the day. And in 2021, Juneteenth became an official federal holiday. 

In a statement released prior to the event, HHOMA Director Jill Upson said her office was “thrilled to have both Raheem DeVaughn and Glenn Jones taking center stage at this special celebration of community.”

“This year’s Juneteenthhas something for everyone,” Upson added. “We are proud to showcase all of West Virginia and the national talent everyone will see Saturday evening.”

The event was emceed by writer and comedian E.L. Smith. Smith has appeared on MTV, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, and can be heard regularly on SiriusXM radio. Smith was the Laugh Factory’s “Fresh Face” winner in 2018, and a top-ten finalist in NBC’s nationwide “Clean Comedy” search. 

In addition to Raheem DeVaughn and Glenn Jones, Saturday’s lineup of performers included the All Nations Revival Center Church “Kingdom Seeds” Praise Dance Ministry; Alondra; Da Front Porch; DJ Big L; Donnie Hawkins; Logical; Morris Macklin, Jr.; The Heavy Hitters; the W3 Dance Team, and the Appalachian Soul Man Aristotle Jones and His Amazing Appalachian Soul Band. 

Vendors and special guests on-hand for the celebration included the WV Human Rights Commission; the WV Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the WV African American Tobacco Prevention Network; Western Regional CASA; Savvy Queen Creations; Phat Daddy’s; NUDRIP LLC; Multifest; Mobile Gaming Trailer; Mo Betta BBQ; Marvelous Treats; London Creations; the James “Tiger” Morton Catastrophic Illness Commission; the Charleston Job Corps Center; Cecil’s Fish; Carol’s Soul to Soul LLC: BG’z LA Street Taco; Autumn Sky LLC; and the West Virginia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. 

Bicycles and other prizes were raffled off to those in attendance. Also participating in the celebration were Winter Cabin Tube Slide, Whale Jump Bounce House, the Mobile Gaming Trailer, and the Fun Fitness Bus & Soft Play, who provided dozens of activities for children of all ages.

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