Saturday was spent celebrating history with the 17th annual Walk to Dorchester and Liberty County’s inaugural Juneteenth parade in downtown Hinesville. First was the 9.5-mile walk from Briar Bay Park to Historic Dorchester Academy beginning at 6 a.m.
Community members, churches and local officials participated in the walk.
They fended off sleep and bugs all for a good cause, the renovations efforts at Dorchester.
The walk is a major fundraiser for the Dorchester Academy Improvement Association. Their mission is to preserve and restore the school, which opened in the 1870s to provide education for freed slaves.
Participants were met with cheers from spectators as they made it to the home stretch and then went inside for breakfast.
Later that morning a small crowd came out for the first annual Juneteenth parade, hosted by the Liberty County Minority Chamber, in downtown Hinesville.
Attendees were confident that the celebration will grow in the years to come.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when soldiers first informed African American slaves in Texas that the Civil War was over and slaves were free, and generally across the Confederate South, even though the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863.
Denise Dudley, chair of the Minority Chamber’s Hispanic Council was the emcee and Sabrina Newby, Minority Chamber CEO was the grand marshal.
Kathy Villafane attended the parade.
“I believe in supporting the community,” Villafane said. “I grew up in Connecticut and since I was a child they always did a Juneteenth parade there.
It’s good to see it here in the community.”
Her husband, Rich Villlafane, who likes history said, “This is important. Everyone needs to know where they come from. I think it can grow in the following years.”
Rodney Reynolds, retired military, came out to support his friend who was in the parade with the Chosen Liberty Corvette Club.
“I didn’t know what Juneteenth was. But now that I know I think it’s a great thing, but we just need to get more involved,” Reynolds said.
The parade also featured members of the Hinesville City Council, the Georgia Bomb Squad dance team, Celebrate Recovery, trucks, music, Omega Psi Phi fraternity and Zeta Phi Beta sorority.