GERMANTOWN, Md. - Journey to Freedom.
That was the theme at Montgomery County’s annual Juneteenth Celebration in Germantown Saturday.
It was a colorful if not, a music filled celebration that took over Black Rock Center for the Arts. Juneteenth which was declared a federal holiday last year, commemorates the 157th anniversary of the events of June 19, 1865.
On that day, Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its enslaved persons.
The county is one of many parts of the DMV that was commemorating and honoring the African American struggle for freedom on this Juneteenth 2022.
"This is an illustration of our community of our culture through the eyes and filter of the black community this is our story and we are inviting you in to be a part of it and learn about it and experience it," said James Stowe, director of the Office of Human Rights.
The all day event full of traditional festivities included educational activities, a historical journey of African American music and artistic entertainment, and a taste of Juneteenth inspired food as well.
The must attend program also featured the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT_SO). Many Montgomery County students work throughout the year to create medal-worthy projects presented to qualified judges and compete at the National ACT-SO Competition for scholarship dollars and prizes.
"This is a chance for our young people to be noted for more than just sports," explained Stowe, "They need our support to go to the competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey and we are asking those who are attending to support our young people."
The goal is to develop leaders through mentoring and enrichment and expose under-served high school youth to STEM, business, and the arts to enable better post-secondary and career decisions. ACT-SO needs funds to support the costs of facilities and materials for the workshops/seminars in addition to transportation and travel costs for students. Donations can be sent to NAACP Montgomery County MD P.O. Box 2165 Rockville, MD 20847-2165
People in attendance during Saturday’s event including community members, elected officials and those who helped to organize said that celebrating Juneteenth as an official holiday, demonstrated the over all true commitment to freedom and equality, for all.
"To have a moment to reflect on how long it took for people in Galveston, Texas to find out they were free, is an honor to know that this community takes it seriously," said Isaac Cudjoe of Montgomery County.
"Anytime we can have time to celebrate our culture and how our culture is shown is a plus," said Ras Vera of Montgomery County.