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Juneteenth a big day at Taylor museum
Juneteenth a big day at Taylor museum
Nan Flowers and Hermina Glass-Hill admire a portrait of Susie King Taylor at the Susie King Taylor Museum. Photo by Pat Donahue

Juneteenth was a day of reflection – and celebration – at the Susie King Taylor Museum in Hinesville.

Juneteenth, declared a national holiday three years ago, marks the day Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger read General Order No. 3 upon arriving in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865. The order proclaimed that all enslaved people were now free.

Susie King Taylor, who became the first woman and the first Black person to have one of Savannah’s city squares named in her honor, was born in Liberty County and escaped from slavery on the Isle of Wight in 1862.

“She emancipated herself before the Emancipation Proclamation,” said Hermina Glass-Hill, the director of the Susie King Taylor Institute. “The war was the perfect opportunity for her to seize that moment. Her and family members and others up and down the coast seized that moment.”

An historian and former associate director of Kennesaw State University’s Center for the Study of the Civil War Era, Glass-Hill said Juneteenth is important today as it recognizes the freedom for all.

“It’s important that we recognize Juneteenth as a holiday, as an entire nation, because our country was founded on this idea of principle, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” she said. “But liberty didn’t apply to everybody. Now here we are here in 2024, everybody, everybody can become aware of freedom and the price of freedom. Freedom isn’t free – a lot of people have died for this. To know now that our country has come full circle and recognized this day that has been important to African Americans for decades, centuries even.”

Glass-Hill quoted the noted orator Frederick Douglass, who asked “What is the Fourth of July to me?”

“It didn’t necessarily mean much for African- Americans or people of African descent. But the Emancipation Proclamation did. Juneteenth did. The 13th Amendment did. The Civil Rights Act did,” she said. “We’re coming full circle as a nation and understanding just how important this is to all Americans. Freedom is a universal ideal but it is an American ideal. We can all celebrate this together. This is a shared history for everybody.”

The museum also welcomed two bronze sculptures created by artist Kevin Pullen, one a bust of Taylor and the other a bust of the Princes of St. Albans, who were three brothers with the surname of Prince from St. Albans, Vermont, and fought in the 54th Massachusetts in the Civil War.

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