Juneteenth celebrated in Huntingdon

HOSTING THE PARTY – (From left) Marland Gilbert and Jobina and Kenneth Gordon hosted Saturday’s Juneteenth block party at K & J’s Smock Shack in Huntingdon.

In celebration of Juneteenth in its first year as an official federal holiday, local residents gathered Saturday at K & J’s Smoke Shack at 107 Beasley Street in Huntingdon.

The day featured music, lots of good food served up by K & J’s, various booths and venders, train rides around neighborhood for the kids, prizes, and speeches by Trent Hampton and Dr. Lakeshia Yarbrough.

During her speech, Dr. Yarbrough recounted some of the holiday’s history and spoke on its special significance to the African American community.

SPEAKING – Dr. Lakeshia Yarbrough speaks during a Juneteenth celebration Saturday in Huntingdon.

Also historically known as Jubilee Day, Black Independence Day, and Emancipation Day, Juneteenth marks the day on June 19, 1863, when news of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which went into effect on Jan. 1 of that year, finally reached Galveston, Texas. And though the Civil War was still raging at the time, that proclamation outlawed slavery in all of the states of the confederacy.

The holiday has been celebrated in various parts of the U.S. since 1866.

“This holiday will always be of historical and spiritual significance, reminding us that together we can overcome obstacles and together we can accomplish anything,” said Yarbrough, who added that President Joe Biden’s recent declaration making Juneteenth a federal holiday gives this year’s celebrations a special meaning.

A 2002 Huntingdon High School graduate, Yarbrough recently earned her Doctorate of Nursing Practice Degree from Murray State University.

Saturday’s event was hosted and headed up by K & J’s co-owners Kenneth and Jobina Gordon, and Jobina’s brother, Marland Gilbert, who owns Duke G. Smoke Shack in Lebanon.

Ms. Gordon said she was pleased with the turnout, and they are hoping for an even bigger and better event and maybe even a parade for next year.

STAYING COOL ON JUNETEENTH – Three-year-old Jenaya Johnson (standing, at front) stays cool with an icy treat on Saturday during a Juneteenth block party celebration at K & J’s Smock Shack in Huntingdon. Also pictured are (seated from left) Duke McKinnie, 10, and his grandmother, Nichole Taylor.