Jacksonville Marks 140th Year of Juneteenth Commemoration; the City Holds Two Observances in Celebration of Black Emancipation

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Byline: CARLY ROTHMAN

Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, but it wasn't until two years later, on June 19, 1865, that slaves in Texas were informed of their freedom. Slavery officially ended in December 1865 with the ratification of the 13th amendment.

This weekend marks the 140th anniversary of "Juneteenth," the annual holiday celebrating black emancipation. In Jacksonville, the city observed the holiday with two events celebrating African-American homeownership, small business ownership and economic advancement.

A luncheon hosted by the Joseph E. Lee Republican Club featured keynote speaker Alphonso Jackson, U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Jackson addressed the audience of about 300 business and political leaders with a speech focusing on the contributions of the Republican Party toward civil rights and on the future of economic advancement for black Americans.

"I came up in the segregated South in Dallas," Jackson said. "And now I stand before you as the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development of the United States of America."

Jackson talked about the "American dream of owning" and touted his department's emphasis on homeownership for African-Americans and other minorities.

State Rep. Jennifer Carroll noted that after the years of barriers to homeownership, having an African-American as the director of Housing and Urban Development has special significance.

"It says a lot about our advances," said Carroll, R-Green Cove Springs. Today, "an African-American is at the helm, leading the way for the rest of America."

The luncheon was the first Juneteenth celebration organized by the Joseph E. …