Story and Photos by Stefanie Jackson – The 23rd annual Juneteenth festival in Exmore on Saturday, June 18, celebrated the day in 1865 when enslaved African Americans in Texas finally heard the news that they had gained their freedom, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.
More than 150 years later, American women and men, regardless of race or color, are celebrating the freedom to live up to their full potential and make a difference in the lives of others.
Juneteenth festivities in Exmore included a parade, live music, food, and shopping, but also people dedicated to the preservation of history, education, the improvement of public health and safety, and the promotion of not just physical but psychological, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Exmore Town Park welcomed a host of individuals, organizations, and agencies, including:
• Jane Cabarrus, Juneteenth event organizer
• Gerald Boyd, Eastern Shore Training and Consulting
• Virginia Department of Health
• Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital
• Eastern Shore Rural Health
• Northampton County Sheriff’s Office
• U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Norfolk Field Office
• Eastern Shore of Virginia Regional Library; Tiffany Flores, youth services librarian
• Cape Charles Rosenwald School Restoration Initiative; Charles Williams Sr., Shirley Galloway, and Valentine Evans
• Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority
• Zeta Phi Beta sorority
• Finale Norton, past candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates
• Danyelle Custis, founder of The Set Truth nonprofit for young women
• Tanikwa Matthews, CEO of WAVE (Women Achieving Victory Everywhere), a nonprofit for military women and families