Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19 every year and is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States. It commemorates the freeing of black slaves two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.
The Bellwood Chapter of Blacks in Government hosted this year’s observation event, which was held in the atrium outside of the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation Operations Center cafeteria on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia.
Dr. Daryl Fraser, associate professor in teaching, Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Social Works, was the featured speaker.
Nathaniel Womack, a quality assurance product specialist in the Chief Bearings Division of Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s Supplier Operations Commodities Directorate, is the vice president for the Bellwood Chapter of BIG and one of the event organizers.
“This program brings awareness and tells the true story of our ancestors. This is not just our history, it benefits everyone. Knowledge is power,” Womack said.
According to CNN, Juneteenth is not an official national holiday, but it is observed as a state holiday in 46 states. Hawaii, Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota are the only states that have not adopted it as a state holiday.
Gwen Beauford, a demand supply chain analyst in the Research Review and Analysis Division of DLA Aviation’s Business Process Support Directorate, attended the celebration and said she came away inspired.
“Every year is a reminder of how far our society has come and how far we as a community have to go. It’s a way of keeping accountability of my responsibilities and to do my part in creating a footprint worth following,” she said.
Before the celebration kicked off, a handful of members of BIG placed flowers on the graves of the six nameless African Americans, believed to be slaves, whose remains are buried inside a small, fenced in patch of earth across the street from the Bettye Ackerman-Cobb Child Development Center on DSCR.
Workers unearthed the remains during the building of the CDC in 1998. After failed efforts by installation leadership at the time to find any possible descendants of the six, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources gave DSCR the permission to rebury the remains. A full re-interment ceremony was held in 1999.