Lanett to host Juneteenth event, community lamp bearers designated

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, June 5, 2024

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LANETT — At its Monday meeting, the Lanett City Council unanimously approved a proclamation recognizing Juneteenth and setting Saturday, June 15th as the day it will be celebrated in downtown Lanett. The proclamation reads that Juneteenth is an educational project and designates 13 people with local ties as lamp bearers for this year’s celebration.

The group includes 11 women and two men each of whom are at least 96 years of age. In addition to having lived a long life, each lamp bearer has been a valued member of their family and the community. Each one has acquired a vast knowledge about life all younger people can learn from.

The women being honored are Lula Mae Roberts and Mary Sledge, both of whom are 107; Dorothy “Dot” Allen and Clemmie Jones, both are 101; Minnie Murphy, Mattie Davis, and Elsie Johnson, all 99; Nancy Huguley, who’s 98; Jo Frances Jackson and Rose DeVance, each 97 and Maudie Taylor, who is 96.

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Mrs. Taylor was at the meeting. Mayor Jamie Heard thanked her for being there and told everyone that she maintains an active lifestyle that includes driving a car and cooking meals.

Of the men who are lamp bearers, Alonza Ransom is 99 and Godfrey Greenwood 96. Mr. Ransom served on the West Point City Council for a number of years before getting married and relocating to LaGrange.

Currently on display in the lobby at Lanett City Hall is an exhibit featuring this year’s lamp bearers. It’s something everyone should see. There is a recent individual photo of each one along with a biographical sketch and comments they have made about living in the local area.

The Juneteenth celebration dates to the end of the Civil War. Slavery was abolished in 1863 in all states loyal to the Union and in the former states of the Confederacy by the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in December 1865. For all practical purposes, slavery ended with the South’s surrender in the War Between the States.

Word was slow to reach all areas of the region. African Americans living in Galveston, Texas did not learn of their freedom until June of 1865 when Union Army forces commanded by General Gordon Granger told them of it.

It set off a highly emotional celebration of music, dance, grateful praise and prayer. It was such a memorable event that it established a new tradition in the area’s African American community.

They called it “Juneteenth” because it takes place in the middle of June. It  celebrates the basic right of human beings to be free.

“For more than 159 years,” the proclamation reads, “Juneteenth National Freedom continues to be the most recognized African American observance celebrated. In the fall of 2010, the Greater Valley Juneteenth Committee was convened by Dr. Randy B. Kelley to sponsor a series of inaugural events to commemorate Juneteenth.”

In 2012, Alabama became the 40th state to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. Georgia recognized it the next year. It’s been a national holiday since June 15, 2021.

Juneteenth is an employee holiday in Lanett and West Point. “Community organizations, businesses, churches, volunteers and residents are strong proponents of  the Juneteenth celebration in the Greater Valley Region,” the proclamation continues. “The June 2024 Juneteenth events will include a farmer’s market, a community festival, the proclaiming of the Emancipation Proclamation. and a fireworks show. The City of Lanett extends best wishes to all Juneteenth visitors, guests and friends. By the authority vested in me as Mayor of the City of Lanett and with the support of the Lanett City Council, I, Jamie Heard, do herby proclaim the celebration of the 159th Juneteenth in the City of Lanett.”