Program emphasizes the significance of the “Emancipation”
By Jordan Bell
The New Year is always a time of reflection and celebration of the previous year. It is also a time when African Americans celebrate the history of their freedom in America. On January 1, 1863 slaves were freed by President Abraham Lincoln and on every January 1st the local branch of the NAACP celebrates Jubilee day.
The celebration held at Loudon Avenue Christian Church was led by NAACP youth president and Northside High School senior Phazon Nash.
Jubilee day includes the actual reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, therefore a litany was read by NAACP youth treasure Tiana King, a Northside HS junior.
The event is customarily well-attended and this year was no exception. Heading the list of various dignitaries was Mayor Sherman Lea along with several City Council members, local pastors and school board members as well.
It’s all about the youth and you can count on local NAACP president Brenda Hale to keep them lifted up and in the spotlight.
This was quite evident through featured soloist Kameron Washington-Brown and Nonso Adimabug an NAACP ACT-SO 2017 gold medalist from Nigeria who presently attends Belle Vista College, Scottsdale, AZ as an exchange student.
Apart from the youth, Bernadette Brown, most-known for her vibrant vocals, capped the celebration’s musical portion with a soul-stirring medley of spirituals that absolutely rocked the house.
As past NAACP youth president, program speaker Blake Barnes is one who knows the importance of Jubilee Day. He is a former William Fleming HS graduate and product of the NAACP Youth Council who is presently a junior at Old Dominion University (ODU), Norfolk, VA.
Barnes spoke on the importance of resiliency in the hearts of African Americans and recounted the story of his grandfather, Jeremiah Holland known as “the Popsicle Man.”
“Hope is what fuels resiliency” Barnes said as he segued through nationwide, state, and local history that involved his grandfather’s resilience and tenacity in the simple sales of popsicles.
In 1933, during legal segregation, Holland traveled throughout the Gainsboro neighborhood selling popsicles from a wagon. He also sold to employees on lunch break at N&W Railroad (Norfolk and Western) which later became Norfolk Southern in 1982. He grew his business and upgraded to a jeep–as the story goes. Holland returned to selling from a wagon (for unknown reasons) and eventually retired in 1979.
The program concluded with words from Mayor Lea, Phazon Nash and NAACP president Hale who expressed her excitement about 12 former NAACP Youth (now college students) who attended this inspiring program in support of Barnes.