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Fifth Street was lined with vendors for Juneteenth in Winston-Salem on Saturday, June 20.
Juneteenth festival-goers celebrate black freedom
amid mourning for slain church members
BY TODD LUCK
Even in the face of national tragedy. Juneteenth was
celebrated around the country this past weekend with the
local celebration taking place Saturday, June 20, on Fifth
Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery and is held on
or around June 19 commemorating the day Union forces
arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that slavery was
over in 1865.
Before reading a Juneteenth proclamation. City
Council Member Derwin Montgomery addressed the
shooting on June 17 when a young white gunman killed
nine African-Americans at Emmanuel African Methodist
Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Montgomery said
"even on a day of celebration, the nation grieves for the
victims in that racially motivated shooting."
"As we celebrate this day and what this day means to
the African-American community in this nation, we also
struggle and wrestle with the fact of the wounds that are
still open and that we still deal with today that are tied to
the racial issues that we have within this country," he said.
Montgomery said the black community must continue
pushing forward until "we reach a place where black is
looked at as something truly valued by all."
Juneteenth transformed the section of Fifth Street in
front of the old Winston Mutual Building into a festival
with vendors food, jewelry, crafts, clothes and other
wares. There were a number of musical performances on
the events stage, including Big Four Choir, which is made
of alumni from the city's four historically black high
schools, and Dion Owen and the Renaissance Choir.
The event's main speaker was the Rev. Byron
Williams, a nationally syndicated columnist and author,
who discussed the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments that
became the foundation of freedom for African-Americans
by abolishing slavery, giving them citizenship, allowing
The Rev. Byron Williams speaks at Juneteenth.
black men to vote and ensuring states could not take away
He said it was the right to vote for minorities that led
John Wilkes Booth to assassinate President Abraham
Lincoln. Williams said in many ways that makes Lincoln
the first civil rights martyr.
But he was far from the last as Jim Crow laws would
continue to oppress blacks, and the Civil Rights
Movement fought for racial equality.
Williams called the treatment of African-Americans
the "index of America's morality."
"Whenever America goes through its ongoing struggle
for redemption, ^t must go through black suffering to
achieve it. There's simply no way around it," he said.
After his remarks, Williams said that black suffering
continues today with recent events involving police bru
tality toward African-Americans and the church shooting.
He said the country gets excited about incidents that make
national headlines, but then the protests go away.
'Today, we're more of a microwave society; we're hot
for a moment and then we cool down," he said.
He said that "Black Live Matters" is a fine slogan
most would agree with, but it's vague and not specific in
its demands. What's needed is a sustained, grassroots
movement with clear, specific goals like the Civil Rights
Movement, and he's hopeful one might emerge soon.
Williams wrote the bestseller "1963: The Year of Hope
and Hostility," which won the 2014 International Book
Award for US History.
Williams, the former pastor of Resurrection
Community Church in Berkeley, California, recently
moved to Winston-Salem and founded the Kairos
Moment, a progressive theological think tank that focuses
Juneteenth is regularly a source of activism. The
Nation of Islam's table was signing up people for the
Million Man March. Right beside them, the NAACP was
gearing up for it's own Winston-Salem march on July 13
in connection with the federal court trial, NC NAACP v.
McCrory, challenging North Carolina's new voting laws,
which the group says supresses minority votes.
Juneteenth is also a place for history. The New
Winston Museum premiered its memory maps of East
Winston, inviting attendees to write memories that hap
pened at places around town. Triad Cultural Arts, which
sponsors the Juneteenth festival, had a booth collecting
recollections of students, teachers and parents at the city's
historically black elementary schools.
On the hot summer day, attendees set up lawn chairs
and even a table underneath a covered Bank of America
ATM next to the stage. When she wasn't on stage singing
with the Big 4 choir. Sheila Smith could be found there
taking it all in. A former member of the Juneteenth plan
ning committee, she said the local celebration has grown
over the years, and remains a great way to learn about his
tory and fellowship with others. She said even in trying
times, Juneteenth is always a day of celebration.
"It gives a lot of younger people exposure to what our
ancestors went through and where we are now," she said.
Photo submitted by Reginald McNeill
Seated Left to Right
Donald Buie, Reginald
McNeill, Cassius Smith.
Standing Left to Right -
Alvin Jackson, Clinton
Brim, Artis Woods,
Thomas Poole, Robert
Davis, Fred Henry,
Clark Hanner, Edward
Russell, Kenneth Kirby,
Quinton Boulware, Steve
Prince Hall Shriners celebrate Jubilee Day
On Sunday, June 7,
Nobles of Sethos Temple
No. 170 of Winston-Salem
hosted a Jubilee Day serv
ice in the chapel of the
Prince Hall Masonic Lodge
located on 14th Street in
the city. Nobles, Daughters
and guests from Winston
Salem, Lexington and High
Point were in attendance.
Rev. Damian Anderson,
Associate Pastor of United
Church was the guest
speaker. Noble Reginald
McNeill, Sr., Illustrious
Potentate of Sethos Temple
No. 170, served as Master
of Ceremony. After the
service a repast was held at
Sethos Temple, which is
located on Old Greensboro
The history of Jubilee
Day began in August 1914,
with a lawsuit sought by
White Shriners against
Prince Hall Shriners, which
ended in a historic decision
by the United States
Supreme Court on June 3,
1929. The lawsuit attempt
ed to deprive Prince Hall
Shriners of using the name,
emblems, and regalia as
Nobles of the Mystic
Shrine, and to only be
recognized as Shriners.
It also extended those
implications to all append
ing Prince Hall Masons
established in the United
The Supreme Court rul
ing overturned lower Court
rulings in Georgia, Texas
and Arkansas. The long,
fifteen year legal battle was
a sacrifice of devastating
proportions for the Prince
Hall Shriners. Yet, with
and a unified effort, the
Prince Hall Shriners were
successful in their cause.
Now, each year on the
closest Sunday to June 3rd,
Prince Hall Shrine Temples
all across the world cele
brate Jubilee Day with a
public ceremony to pro
claim our "Jubilee".
Sethos Temple No. 170
was founded in Winston
Salem in 1946, and cur
rently has 62 members.
Membership is open to
members of Masonic
organizations. It is an affil
iate of the Ancient
Egyptian Arabic Order
Nobles Mystic Shrine, Inc.,
which is composed of 224
Temples and more than
25,000 members world
wide. The Prince Hall
Shrine Order was estab
lished in Chicago in 1893.
Electronic Cigarettes produce
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vapor as advertised.
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