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Thomasville community reacts to recognition of Juneteenth as federal holiday

History was made now that Juneteenth has been declared a federal holiday Thursday after being...
History was made now that Juneteenth has been declared a federal holiday Thursday after being signed into law by President Joe Biden.(Blair Sabol (KCBD))
Updated: Jun. 19, 2021 at 12:12 PM EDT
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THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WCTV) - History was made now that Juneteenth has been declared a federal holiday Thursday after being signed into law by President Joe Biden.

“I’m feeling overwhelmed, but it’s a good overwhelmed. It’s a good overwhelming feeling,” said Ucher Dent, the creator of the Freedom festival in Thomasville, Ga.

Dent also has a mentor ship program called No More Shackles Empowerment. She said while looking for ways to better serve her organization and her community, she started researching Juneteenth, and that’s how the idea for the celebration was born.

In May, the city of Thomasville announced that it would officially recognize June 19 as a city holiday, closing city offices for observance.

“When the executive order had been signed it was, like, ‘oh my God, we’re being heard and they’re showing us that we matter’,” said Dent.

Dent added that she believes the black community has been fighting for this kind of inclusiveness and representation and she finally feels like they’re being heard.

”We have been voicing our concerns,” explained Dent. “Voicing that we are important and that we matter. It’s just a good feeling, just knowing that we’re being heard and that we are being included.”

After researching the meaning behind Juneteenth, and the types of celebrations held in the surrounding Georgia area, Dent approached the Douglas High school Alumni Association Board with the idea to hold a festival.

The first event was held in 2019 and canceled because of the pandemic in 2020. However, the DHS Alumni association President, Ernest Nix Sr. said he believes having the festival after everything that happened in 2020 in regards to race and equality, will help bring the community back together.

”I told Ucher, ‘if you have it this year, people are going to be overwhelmed. They’re coming out to see what it’s all about.’ Now they feel empowered and charged up for the event,” Nix, Sr. said.

The festival will be held on Saturday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at the DHS Alumni Association. Over 90 vendors are expected along with food and other activities for the whole family.

Dent said rain or shine the festival will go on, and she’s hopeful that people will come out to have a good time and to educate themselves on the importance of Juneteenth.

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