CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Thursday afternoon, President Joe Biden signed legislation naming Juneteenth the newest federal holiday. But long before that measure passed the House and Senate, the City of Clarksville and Montgomery County government designated it a holiday for their city and county workers.
For a lot of Americans, they're still unpacking the idea of Juneteenth. For Juanita Charles, she's been ready to show off the holiday and the culture that comes with it. "Clarksville Juneteenth Festival 6-19-2021 - and on the back, we have all of our amazing sponsors," said Charles, as she shows off shirts for the big event.
Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1885 -- the day the last slaveholding community in Texas learned and adopted emancipation. "It’s celebrating not only our freedom but our culture and our history and our contributions to America as Americans," said Charles.
136 years later, Juanita still sees a division between our communities. So she sees this Clarksville Juneteenth Festival she's organized, as an open invitation. "It’s an opportunity to experience Black culture, not from the outside, but inside of it and I think that’s what we’re missing," she said.
And to truly make that invitation open, their activity list is lengthy. "We have art, we have literature, we have music, and dance and history," said Charles.
In addition to the celebrations, both the city and county are marking it as an official holiday. "The importance of remembering that event in our nation’s history cannot be overstated," said Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts.
Pitts says he takes pride in the fact the community was one of the first in our area to recognize the day as an official holiday. He hopes this will be more than just a day from work.
"We need to think about how far we’ve come but how far we still need to go. We pay lip service to diversity but there’s also unity behind community, and that’s what Clarksville’s all about," said Pitts.
As for Juanita, she'll just have to keep all that excitement packed in, until Saturday. "Ahh we’re just really, really excited," she said. "So if you don’t show up, you’re missing out."