More than 150 members of the Smyrna community celebrated the town’s first Juneteenth on June 19 in Smyrna’s Hilltop Rosenwald Park.
The event, more than a year in the planning, came one day after Juneteenth was declared a federal holiday.
Event organizer and Smyrna Councilwoman Racquel Peebles said, “I am glad that the government is recognizing the struggle of African Americans and that the legislature and the President have seen fit to make sure that this day is honored in a positive way.”
Juneteenth, short for June Nineteenth, marks the day when U.S. Federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people were freed.
Also recognized at the inaugural Smyrna event were Past Legends (Black residents of Smyrna who are deceased); Living Legends; and Pillars of the Community (Black residents of Smyrna who are 80 or older).
Also honored were Black members of the military who were born in Smyrna.
Councilwoman Racquel Peebles, Toni Gregory and other members of the Smyrna Black community organized the event.
“A lot of people contributed to this event,” Peebles said. “Hopefully this will become an annual event.”
Peebles’ family has lived in the Smyrna area for more than seven generations. Peebles, an attorney, in 2016 became the first Black person to be elected to the Smyrna Town Council.