ROANOKE, Va. – Celebrating freedom through their voices and feet in Eureka Park, Roanoke residents came together to honor Juneteenth on Saturday.
Cheering with pride, 17-year-old Jennifer Benne, a William Fleming High School student, said her squad recognized their ancestors who paved a path for them.
“It’s important for us to know our history so we can do better when we get older,” Benne said. “So we know to get our education and take everything seriously.”
More than 40 vendors offered food, cultural merchandise and taught the history of the significant day. A comforting sight for Donna Davis as she said school books have nixed Black history for too long.
“It’s not completely being taught in the schools so that’s something that’s the people’s responsibility,” said event coordinator Donna Davis.
A couple of miles away, 17-year-old Saniyah Cotton sung by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. A melody for Roanoke Chapter Southern Christian Leadership Conference Founder Perneller Chubb-Wilson as she reflects upon the time she met MLK in Danville in 1963.
“Every day I think about how Martin Luther King brought me to where I am today,” Chubb-Wilson said.
Seventeen years ago, she helped commence the Juneteenth celebrations in Roanoke with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s annual Juneteenth event. But she is elated to now see it be recognized nationwide.
“Oh lord, I fell back and came back again and shouted again,” she said. “And said, ‘Thank you, Jesus. It’s long past due.’”