The Center for African American History, Art and Culture will offer something old and something new this week.
The something old is the Juneteenth Celebration, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at Perry Park at 720 Abbeville Ave. The event has been conducted each year without a break since 2009, according to the Center's executive director, Jo-Anne Saunders, and there were other editions of the Celebration before then.
The “something new” is the Aiken Jazz Festival that will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. at Perry Park on Friday. Performers will include Reggie Sullivan and Calvin Edwards.
“Everybody loves jazz, and jazz has such a rich history,” Saunders said. “We just wanted to bring the community together and usher in our Juneteenth Celebration.”
General admission tickets for the Jazz Festival, which is a fundraising event for the Center, are $25 each. The cost to attend for anyone younger than 17 is $15.
“You can bring a picnic basket, and you need to bring your own seating,” Saunders said.
VIP tickets are available for $45 apiece. Their purchasers will receive a seat at a table, food and drinks.
For more information about purchasing tickets, call Saunders at 803-649-2221. Tickets also will be sold at the gate.
Admission to the Juneteenth Celebration is free. Attendees will be able to enjoy gospel music, face painting and a historical re-enactment involving Buffalo Soldiers. There also will be an exhibit of slave artifacts.
Juneteenth is a holiday that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865. That didn't occur until four years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth traditionally is celebrated on June 19, but the date of the Center's event is June 22.
Saunders said the Center's Juneteenth Celebration festivities will include a re-enactment of the events that took place in Texas that led to the holiday's founding.
Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston on June 18, 1865, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves. The following day, while standing on the balcony of Galveston's Ashton Villa, Granger read an order declaring that all slaves had to be given their freedom.
The Center is located in the historic Immanuel Institute Building on York Street. Its Aiken Together campaign is scheduled to begin soon in an effort to raise $1.5 million. The money will be used to complete exhibits and finish renovations to the building.
“This is our last capital campaign, and, after it goes successfully, we hope to have an official target date for when the Center will open,” Saunders said.
Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C., she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.