For Rodney Tillman, the founder of the local nonprofit Vision 2020 & Beyond, a Juneteenth celebration was long overdue. Between the pandemic and becoming a federal holiday, the group’s inaugural Juneteenth celebration focused on resilience.
The nonprofit focuses on community growth in the Bettis Academy area and this event brought together Black-owned businesses in South Carolina and Georgia as part of the celebration of African American culture.
“Being an African American, a lot of people were unaware of the date,” Tillman said. “Even myself, until seven or eight years (ago) I had never heard of it (and) didn’t know it existed. I realized the true meaning of the day and the resilience of the day and the people that struggled from yesterday, we decided to do something on our own home property just to bring the community together.”
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. It was about two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in Southern states, according to the Associated Press.
LaDestini Kitchings of Choices, a Caribbean style food vendor in Graniteville, was excited to be back out in the community – rain or shine.
“It means a lot because for our culture and our background, it’s a lot for all our people to be able to come together and our own individual businesses and be able to show each other the different things,” Kitchings said.
Veronica Tutt of Daffodils Custom Crafts and Designs in Marietta, Georgia, came out to celebrate the holiday with other business owners.
“It’s been like a big family reunion,” Tutt said. “Good vendors. I like the vendors, I like the music, it’s a good feeling out here.”
Tillman hopes the event brought together good times after a long pandemic delay.
“I just want to see a bunch of smiling faces and congregating of the people,” he said.
Read More: Juneteenth celebration in North Augusta highlights Black-owned businesses | News