Juneteenth Marked at Franklin Library


Two separate events at the Franklin Library on Saturday were centered on Juneteenth, the anniversary of General Order No. 3 by the Union Army on June 19th 1865 in Galveston, Texas, announcing the freedom of individuals enslaved in Texas at that time, the westernmost Confederate state. Since the 1980s and 1990s, the holiday has been more widely celebrated among African-American communities and has seen increasing mainstream attention in the US. It became a federal holiday when the current president signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law last year.

The first event on Saturday, organized by the Franklin Republican Town Committee, a showing of Hidden Figures, a 2016 film centering on segregation in the early 1960s in the midst of the “Space Race,” was very sparsely attended. The second event, organized by Caleigh Keating, Franklin Library Youth Services director and featuring Franklin resident Jamele Adams, drew a larger crowd that was also very enthusiastic.

Adams, an educator, got the group talking and sharing and then read a poem he wrote relating to Juneteenth. He then asked participants to write down their thoughts or prepare a reaction that they could share. These “audience reactions" dealt, mostly, with personal recognitions of occasions when each individual  had learned or recognized issues for the first time or felt them more deeply.

The meeting also included a free-flowing discussion, facilitated by Adams.

Adams also got people to “take a selfie with a stranger” as a small exercise in engaging with others and breaking down barriers.

Reflecting on the event, Adams said, the hope was to bring people together. “Our conversation was appreciated and the doorway to more opportunities for our community to come together,” he added.

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