ROANOKE, Va. – While most people celebrated the start of a new decade on New Years’ Day, hundreds of people packed into a Northwest Roanoke church to commemorate a different holiday.
The Roanoke chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) hosted a Jubilee Day celebration Wednesday afternoon. Jubilee Day commemorates the day in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery.
Roanoke’s festivities including music, dancing, and a sermon. Roanoke NAACP President Brenda Hale hopes the people who came to celebrate Jubilee Day went into 2020 as motivated as ever.
“We must continue to sing that song of freedom,” Hale said. “We must continue to speak up for injustice. We cannot be silent, no matter how oppressed people are in our nation.”
Roanoke mayor Sherman Lea also addressed the Jubilee Day crowd. Lea stressed the importance of voting in the 2020 election, and reminded them that Roanoke’s local election will be on the same day as the presidential election.
“We’ve got to do something. We’ve got an opportunity now," Lea said. I want to thank City Council for moving our elections. That wasn’t an easy move to go from May to November. We came together to make that happen, and now it’s up to all of us to follow through.”