Laurens, SC – The City of Laurens held its second annual Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, and organizers were pleased to see not only a diverse crowd but also a wide range of ages celebrating the meaning of Juneteenth, and the joy and freedom the holiday represents.
“I believe the great attendance reflected an excitement to come together as a community to honor Juneteenth, to be educated about it and enjoy the entertainment,” said committee chair and Laurens City Council member Cassandra Campbell. “We invited a wider variety of entertainment to appeal to all ages, from children to adults, and every aspect of it was an attempt to unify the community under the umbrella of celebrating the spirit of freedom and unity.”
A group of children from a Calhoun Falls praise dance team performed in the children’s area at the splash pad, and cross-county group Sing2Gether performed many inspirational songs.
Several new programs were also introduced this year, including the crowning of a Mr. and Ms. Juneteenth. Those titles were won by Calvin Whitmire for his work with Bridging the Gap Advocacy, and Dorinda Crawford, who has been instrumental in the revitalization and beautification in the Jersey and Jones street areas.
They each won cash prizes, as did Clinton High football player Jabari Isaiah Dillard, a rising 11th grader for his sole submission for a Juneteenth Creative Connections artistic competition for youth launched a couple of months prior to Juneteenth.
Dillard won $250 for his painting, Black Boy Joy, symbolizing the innocence and freedom that all black babies deserve, he explained in his artist’s notes.
Following the Laurens event, Campbell said the committee began hearing of violence which marked several Juneteenth celebrations across the county, and she is grateful that was never such a concern here.
“I have heard nothing but positive responses,” Campbell said. “Because we have a high level of love in our community, there was no reason to experience anything that was negative.”
This story originally ran on Page 1 of the Wednesday, June 21, 2023 issue of The Laurens County Advertiser.