TUPELO • Just days after federal lawmakers voted to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, residents in Holly Springs will host a celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States tomorrow.

Care Now Food Pantry and the NAACP Marshall County branch will host the Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom this Saturday, June 19, at the Holly Springs Courthouse. There will be a 4K walk at 7:30 a.m. The parade will start at 12 p.m., and the celebration event will be from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The event will feature food trucks and vendors. There will be carnival games, gift card giveaways and a coloring station for kids. Free food, such as catfish, deep fried cheesecake, and seafood, and dental supplies will be available.

Care Now co-founder Rolanda Lester said the event was planned as a way to help the community have a better understanding of what Juneteenth means. After talking with older and younger generations who didn’t know what it represents, she wants to encourage people to come together for a good cause.

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“It’s something to be very much celebrated because it is our freedom day,” Lester said. “It’s imperative that we have the Juneteenth celebration this year because of all the police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. We feel that we really need to inform the people of all races because everyone needs to know.”

The keynote speaker will be Jacqueline Hamer Flakes, daughter of the late civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. Lester said with the current voting legislation being passed throughout the country, it is important to remind people of Hamer’s work to increase voter access.

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“The fact that her movement started with trying to get the right to vote, and here we are (over) 100 years from her birth, we’re still going through the same thing. People need to wake up and stand up because we are sick and tired of being sick and tired, just like Fannie was,” Lester said.

Flakes will also speak about the impact of mental illness in the African American community and how history plays a role. Healthy Kids Executive Director Michael O. Minor will also speak, and Bird Williams will perform.

Alliance Healthcare Services will provide free COVID-19 vaccinations during the event, while organizations such as Communicare, Magnolia Health and the Diaper Bank of the Delta will be in attendance to provide attendees with information about their services.

The event’s opening parade will have 50 participants, including a “stop the violence” section where families who have lost loved ones to violence in the community will march while wearing shirts with their loved ones pictured.

The event will also feature Juneteenth displays and a cultural line dance to engage the crowd. Lester hopes the celebration can help teach people the importance of celebrating freedom and being thankful for their ancestors.

“Holly Springs has so much history that we should have our Juneteenth celebration because we have so much to offer,” Lester said.

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