June 19, 1865, the date forever encapsulated with the final freeing of slaves in the United States. The Union Army marched to Galvenston, Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, signed 2 years earlier by President Abraham Lincoln.
That date, finally being recognized by our federal government as a national holiday, was signed into law by President Joe Biden in June, 2021. Although only 2 dozen or so states observe the date as a paid holiday, its still a time for reflecting, celebrating and charting a new path as descendants of slaves.
South Jersey (and various parts of New Jersey) had numerous celebrations this weekend. I particularly enjoyed Camden City’s event on Saturday. The day was off to a great start with an Overcast day, leading to a perfect breezy day on the Camden Waterfront.
The event was brought to you by Camden County Board of Commissioners and the City of Camden. Starting off with a Motorcade filled with honking horns, sirens, blaring music and waving flags and limbs out of vehicles, the parade on wheels left Dare Academy and traveled through the city to alert residents of this joyous occasion. You frequently heard chants like, “Meet us at the Waterfront,” by our Mayor Vic Carstarphen, in the back of a pickup truck.
Kicking off the event was Ronsha Dickerson, who gave libations on behalf of our ancestors and loved ones lost. From there, the entertainment kicked off. On the bill was plenty of homegrown entertainment with the event being hosted by Camden’s own,IMD, the host of the only morning show in the city. Also in the lineup: Jeff Bradshaw, Jeff Murrell, Exit 45, WHOAMI?, Universal African Dance & Drum and more.
Mayor Vic Carstarphen presented a special proclamation to Tuskegee Airman, Dr. Eugene J. Richardson Jr., a World War II Pilot and Tuskegee Airmen. He left Camden in 1943 and joined the Air Corp in 1944 and completed his training in 1945 in Tuskegee, Alabama. Also in attendance were vendors, kid activities, food, and I believe I saw a few job opportunities or two. Overall, you couldn't ask for more for such an occasion. Now let’s see what 2023 will be like!!!