Juneteenth celebration highlights Macon history | News
This week begins Macon's celebration of Juneteenth, which marks a day in 1865 when Union troops marched into Texas after Civil War and emancipated slaves on plantations there.
Although Abraham Lincoln has issued the Emancipation Proclamation 2 years before, most slaves, including those in Central Georgia still remained on the plantations until 1865.
"It actually took the force of a war to cause human beings to be able to walk free," says Macon co-organizer George Muhammad.
Sunday, organizers hosted a talk at the Ruth Hartley Mosley Women's Center on Spring Street given by Dr. Karcheik Sims-Alvarado, a former professor at Georgia State who did her Ph.D. dissertation on the history of African-Americans in Macon just after the Civil War.
She says after slaves were freed, the black population in Macon was 5 times higher as former slaves from the countryside moved to the city.
In Macon, former slaves built shanties and often lived in poverty. Their economic struggles led a group of them to move back to Africa.
"Letters were written from black Maconites where hundreds of blacks in the city decided that they were going to leave the United States altogether," says Sims-Alvarado.
By the time a later group of Maconites wanted to leave, the resources weren't there and they remained in America, facing a century-long struggle for equality.
The guest speaker event kicks off a week of Juneteenth events in Macon. Friday, there will be a Hip Hop Summit at the Douglass Theatre from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Saturday, June 14th will be the 22nd annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival at Tattnall Square Park from 3 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Follow 13WMAZ's Tom George on Twitter @thetomgeorge.