MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - People gathered around Downtown Moss Point Saturday in celebration of an important milestone in our nation's history: the abolition of slavery.
"There's several Juneteenth celebrations. Actually right now, Juneteenth is being celebrated probably today all across America," event organizer Daphne Viverette said.
The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect January 1, 1863, but didn't immediately mean freedom for many salves in the South. Juneteenth commemorates June 18 and 19, 1865. That's when Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves.
"It's important that we educate our youth about where they came from, how this all began, what happened back in 1865 and just to understand what it all means," Viverette said. "This year we decided we'd bring it downtown since we had our grand opening for the new Riverfront Park and we wanted to celebrate and maybe get some passerby-ers to stop."
"It's very important, for all colors really," said festival attendee Lisa Richardson. "We've really come a long way, so I think it's very important."
"We would like for this celebration to be a part of all the citizens in our area because of the fact that we need people to be educated about what Juneteenth is, why we celebrate it and who is a part of it," Viverette explained.
Because this event is much more than just a celebration, organizers in Moss Point renamed the event the Juneteenth Heritage Festival.
Juneteenth is currently recognized as a holiday by 37 states in the U.S.