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Celebrating Juneteenth in St. John Parish

LAPLACE — Collective memory suggests that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on Jan. 1, 1863. Out here in Louisiana’s River Parishes and throughout the nation, Juneteenth is remembered as the day the last of the enslaved were freed.

The Emancipation Proclamation was only effective where there were Republican Union bayonets to enforce the order.  It wasn’t until about two months after the end of the Civil War in 1865 that the Emancipation Proclamation was enforced in parts of Texas. Commemorating the day when General Gordon Granger and his troops arrived by steamship in Texas on June 19, 1865 to affirm the legal rights of formerly enslaved persons, the holiday is also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day and Liberation Day. Juneteenth is observed annually with a festival celebration held at Whitney Plantation. The holiday has been celebrated for several years on the West Bank of St. John the Baptist Parish. In 2020, the St. John Parish Council declared Juneteenth to be an official holiday, and a march was held on the East Bank.

Local Juneteenth events are planned for this weekend in St. John Parish.

  • This Saturday, the second annual Juneteenth March and Celebration will begin at 8 a.m. in the parking lot of Home Depot in LaPlace and continue down Airline Highway to the St. John Parish Government complex. Immediately following the march, there will be guest speakers, voter registration, NAACP sign up and more.
  • A Juneteenth Community Celebration will commemorate America’s “Second Independence Day” with free food, guest speakers and performances starting at noon June 19 at the Juan Anthony Joseph Memorial Park in Edgard. This event is sponsored by the West St. John Civic Association and the River Road African American Museum.
  • Top Notch Essentials is organizing a Juneteenth Festival at 2 p.m. June 19 celebrating culture, legacy and community on the grounds of Jazzy’s at 1036 Cambridge Drive in LaPlace. The event will feature live music, African inspired dishes, African performers, guest speakers, special presentations and local vendors. Bring the family, and bring some chairs. For more information, contact Kita Harry at 504-352-0261.
  • The second annual “Light Up the Night for Black Lives” lighted bike ride will begin at 7 p.m. on June 19. For more information about this event, contact Derron Cook at 912-604-6348.
  • Locals can also celebrate Juneteenth by remembering the lives of the enslaved along the 1811 Slave Revolt Trail. Stops include the 1811 Kid Oy Historic House in LaPlace and Destrehan Plantation. Extended experiences are also available at Whitney Plantation and Historic Riverlands Christian Center.