Southern Christian Leadership Conference Roanoke Chapter celebrates Juneteenth

Updated: Jun. 19, 2021 at 6:43 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - People across our hometowns commemorated Juneteenth--the day that marks the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference held its 17th annual Juneteenth celebration Saturday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Statue.

Mayor Sherman Lea spoke about how this year’s Juneteenth is particularly special, since President Joe Biden has declared it a national holiday.

“So people are celebrating, they’re hearing speeches, and you hear a lot of speeches, but I want us to think about that, feel the joy and happiness, but go beyond the speeches and do what you can do,” Lea said.

But he also noted this day can serve as a chance to look closely at our city and the violence that continues to spread.

“We have a situation now where people in our neighborhoods are afraid to sit in the porch because of gunshots, and I don’t want to be negative about that, but I think it’s something we have to face and deal with,” he said.

He stressed youth violence needs to end.

The President of the SCLC Roanoke Chapter also spoke, saying she felt grateful this chapter has celebrated Juneteenth, even long before it was a federal or state holiday.

“Oh my lord, I’m so happy I don’t know what to do, I have to shout it all over the place, when the Governor announced when it was a state holiday and then when the president said it was a national holiday, I fell back and came back again and I said Jesus, it’s long past due,” Perneller Chubb-Wilson, President of the SCLC Roanoke Chapter, said..

To keep spirits lifted, a 17-year-old Roanoke rising high school senior sang a song for the crowd and another speaker got the whole audience singing along. A trumpeter ended the celebration on a high note.

This event was one of many Juneteenth events going on Saturday. Folks gathered for a public family reunion celebration at Eureka Park, with music, food, history lessons and other activities.

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