STOCKBRIDGE – The city of Stockbridge is interested in holding an expanded Juneteenth celebration in 2021.
Alphonso Thomas, the city’s mayor pro tem, explained that Juneteenth is an opportunity for all Americans to celebrate the anniversary of the day in 1865 when Gen. Gordon Granger informed the slaves in Galveston, Texas, that they were free.
“One of the positive things about the pandemic and the shelter in place order, is that everyone slowed down and that all people from all ethnicities were able to see the racial tension in this country and the disparity in equality,” Thomas said. “Juneteenth has been around for a while as a little-known celebration out of Texas, and even though it was celebrated in Atlanta, a lot of people weren’t familiar with Juneteenth.”
Thomas said he felt it was time in Stockbridge to create a celebration for the Juneteenth holiday.
“What I have been able to research and understand about Juneteenth is an opportunity for conversation and dialogue,” Thomas said. “It coincides with trying to heal the nation. With knowledge comes understanding. When you talk the racial divide, one of the problems there is when you don’t understand it.”
Thomas said that with the pandemic and people sheltering in place, people have started to see some of that racial injustice.
“They see it and don’t like what they see,” he said. “To live together, we have to come to some kind of harmony. That’s the only way we’ll be able to live together. We’ve got to have some unity and understand each other.”
Juneteenth 2021 is 11 months away, but Thomas already envisions an event featuring parades, a barbecue, art displays and music.
“We’ll do our research and look at all the components and ingredients into the Juneteenth celebration,” Thomas said.