FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — On Saturday, people across Middle Tennessee will commemorate the end of slavery in the United States at Juneteenth events and festivals.
Franklin's 17th annual Juneteenth Festival will be held at Pinkerton Park. As part of the event organized by the African American Heritage Society of Williamson County, a new historical sign will be unveiled highlighting the city's connection to the holiday.
"African American history has been left out and we’re just trying to make sure everything is brought out," said Alma McLemore, President of the African American Heritage Society of Williamson County.
An existing historical marker in the park explains the significance of Fort Granger. It was built in 1863 after Federal forces led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger occupied Franklin. The structure was built to protect a railroad line to Nashville. Thousands of soldiers were stationed at the fort.
Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger was also the same person who arrived in Texas on June 19, 1865, to let enslaved people know they were free. Even though President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in January 1863, many slave owners were not complying until Union troops enforced the order. Since Texas was the last state to receive an announcement of the proclamation, June 19 is considered the end of slavery in the United States.
McLemore said a new sign will fill in Granger's role in Juneteenth. She hopes it will help people in the community understand and appreciate the significance of the holiday.
"When people come to the park to run, or walk or play, they will be able to see these monuments," said McLemore. "This will help us come together more."
The Festival runs from noon to 3 p.m. and the sign will be unveiled at 12:30 p.m. There will also be food trucks and a health fair. The park is located at 405 Murfreesboro Road.