History remembered: Gifford celebrates Juneteenth

Dr. Deborah Taylor-Long, Peyton Graham, Gretchen Long and Aja Graham. PHOTO BY NICK SAMUEL

GIFFORD — Praise dances, history lessons on Black people taken from the western coast of Africa in slave ships and brought to America in 1619, and face painting highlighted the Juneteenth events held this year. Juneteenth, which observes the end of slavery in the U.S., continues to have celebrations across Florida, even into this upcoming weekend.

People gathered Wednesday at the Gifford Historical Museum and Cultural Center and Saturday at Victor Hart Sr. Community Enhancement Complex. The celebrations brought in families, pastors, artists, singers, poets, playwrights and Indian River County commissioners.

The attendees enjoyed both events, despite the threat of thunderstorms on Saturday. Most managed to indulge in barbecue, frozen drinks, cheesecake and classic cookout songs like Frankie Beverly and Maze’s “Before I Let Go,” before the rain rolled through.

With Juneteenth events being cancelled in Gifford in recent years, co-organizer Terri Floyd said she and her husband Teddy Floyd are focused on having the festivity every year from now on.

“We have history that our young kids don’t know. This is our way of getting it out to our youth,” Terri Floyd said. “If we keep giving out education about emancipation, they’ll know some of that history, since most African-American history has been cut in our schools.”

Teddy Floyd, event co-organizer, said Juneteenth represents a time to reflect on the freedom of African-Americans after suffering the cruel conditions of chattel slavery for several hundred years, being torn from families, enduring violence and treated like property.

With reflection comes knowledge, wisdom and a vision to create a more unified nation, organizers say.

“Juneteenth represents what we’ve been through as a Black community,” said Floyd, pointing out that scars of history’s past will push people forward. “We’re free now to intermingle and come together as one.”

Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, is also a time for people to create change, Floyd said.

“People say ‘where can I make a difference?’ This is where you can start – today,” said Floyd, a retired sheriff’s deputy and co-founder of the nonprofit T&T Community Enhancement Organization In Action. “We’re all working together on one accord. There’s so many people that believe in what we do in Indian River County. If you put it out there, they will come.”

Juneteenth books are available at the five library branches in Indian River County.

Related Articles

Comments are closed.