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Inaugural Juneteenth held in Wellsville

WELLSVILLE — Until Juneteenth recently was approved as a federal holiday, the majority of Americans would probably agree that they hadn’t heard of it.

Southern Columbiana County celebrated Jubilee Day in subdued style the end of slavery with its inaugural event this year in downtown Wellsville.

Days before Saturday’s event, which marks the 165th anniversary of slaves learning of their freedom in a post-Emancipation Proclamation America, the weather was cooperative during most of the day’s festivities.

Daniel Winston and Wynton Rayford from the East Liverpool-Wellsville NAACP, who emceed the event, briefly detailed how news of President Abraham Lincoln’s outlawing of slavery was slow to reach the most remote of areas.

Texas, which was the most remote of the slave states and had seen an expansion as the Civil War concluded with a low presence of the Union Army, was the first to celebrate Juneteenth. However, in the 1950s and 1960s, the civil rights movement focused the attention of African Americans on expanding their freedoms and integration; however, observation declined again until re-emerging on the forefront in the seventies, when Texas would declare Juneteenth as a state holiday effective Jan. 1, 1980.

Currently, South Dakota is the only state that still doesn’t recognize Juneteenth, which President Joe Biden declared a national day of observance, like New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Veterans’ Day and Christmas Day.

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