Juneteenth in Smithfield

Published 5:03 pm Thursday, June 20, 2024

Smithfield hosted Juneteenth celebrations along Main Street to mark the June 19 state and federal holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. It marks the date when African Americans in Galveston, Texas, learned the Civil War had ended and the Emancipation Proclamation had made them free two years earlier.

The festivities began with remarks by Smithfield Mayor Steve Bowman and Dylan Pritchett, a past president of the National Association of Black Storytellers, followed by The Juneteenth Choir and “Sounds of Music,” a jazz ensemble band from Lakeland High School in Suffolk. Portsmouth’s Turquoise School of Dance took the Main Street Square stage just after 1 p.m.

At the 1750 Courthouse, Harry Johnson, an engineer with Huntington Ingalls Industries, reprised his portrayal of Randall Booth, an enslaved 19th century man who during the Civil War saved Isle of Wight County’s court records. Vendors set up shop in the Bank of Southside Virginia parking lot, which turned into a food court for the day, and outside the Schoolhouse Museum.

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