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Gammon House celebrates freedom at Juneteenth

On June 19, 1865, word reached Galveston, Texas, of the Emancipation Proclamation, and the new-found freedom of all those enslaved.

The Gammon House will host its 16th annual celebration for this date, known as Juneteenth, on Saturday. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

People entering the Gammon House, a former stop on the Underground Railroad, experience the power of the house when they enter, Gammon House Chairwoman Betty Grimes said.

“They are just mesmerized when they come in,” Grimes said. “They feel it.”

Juneteenth is a nationally recognized day celebrating the end of slavery in the U.S. This year’s event will feature local grillers, vendors and music. A photo contest will also take place where attendees can bring in old photos of family, dating back to the 1800s.

Wittenberg University philosophy Professor Julius Bailey will emcee the event for the first time.

Bailey, who has taught at Wittenberg for four years, said problems continue to exist in the community with racial prejudice and violence.

“Obviously, there are still issues,” Bailey said. “At this time, it’s good for the community to come together.”

Musical guests will include Springfield jazz vocalist Beverly Jackson, Hayden Jackson’s Gospel Explosion Choir and Gary Geis Modern Dance Group with Cynthia Griffin.

Grimes said she hopes the event will serve the purpose of the Gammon House, which is preserved as an educational resource for the community.

“A lot of people don’t know about Juneteenth,” Grimes said. “I hope it will be a learning experience for people.”

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