Yesterday was the federal holiday of Juneteenth to mark the end of legal and state-sanctioned slavery in the United States of America. On June 7, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors issued a proclamation recognizing the occasion.
“On June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed to free all enslaved people, enslaved Americans in Galveston, Texas, were finally told that they were free from the bondage of slavery and were, for the first time, recognized as citizens of our Nation,” reads the proclamation.
Ed Brooks, the program coordinator for the Yancey School Community Center, accepted the proclamation. He pointed out that there are pictures in the county office building that commemorate the Union Mills community of freed people that developed after the Civil War on the South Fork of the Rivanna River.
“Those pictures, they do mean a lot and also the placing of the historical marker in the lynching death of John Henry James at the county courthouse,” Brooks said. “And this is huge. The vote in September 2020 for the removal of the Confederate statue in the courthouse. You were the first local body in Virginia under the new Virginia statute to remove this by a vote.”
Brooks said Albemarle’s investment to turn the former Yancey Elementary School into a community center is helping to address health and wellness issues. He said there’s a heritage celebration on display at the moment and invited members of the community to visit.
“For the last weekend in June, we are going to be celebrating a tour of the African American historic sites in Scottsville on Saturday the 24th starting at 10 a.m. at Union Baptist Church on Hardware Street Extended,” Brooks said. “It will end at the Scottsville Museum.”
That tour is being organized by Preservation Piedmont if you want to sign up.
Brooks said the Yancey Community Center is now underneath the Parks and Recreation Department after being part of the Office of Equity and Inclusion.
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