There may be safety and health precautions taken this year that will keep the McLemore House from hosting its typical celebration of Juneteenth.
That doesn’t mean the annual date marking freedom from slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation will go unnoticed.
This year, it will just be courtesy of technology through Facebook.
“We felt real strongly that we don’t need to be getting crowds together [because of the coronavirus outbreak],” said Marianne Schroer, board member of the African American Heritage Society of Williamson County who is co-chairing the virtual event. “But we also felt real strongly that we needed to remember and celebrate Juneteenth this year in spite of everything going on with the virus.”
For the last 15 years, the third Saturday in June has been the day the AAHS has hosted an annual Juneteenth celebration at the McLemore House Museum in Franklin. Juneteenth is a celebration from slavery to freedom that began in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865.
Though Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation two-and-a-half years before, the enslaved in Galveston were not informed of their freedom until June 19, 1865. To commemorate this historic event, communities and organizations throughout the country celebrate Juneteenth, which is recognized as a state holiday in many states across the country.
At the McLemore House, this is the day that locals and others commemorate Juneteenth by focusing on its origin and meaning. It is a day of remembrance and of sharing history and stories of how freedom changed lives in Williamson County as well as emphasizing and truly understanding and appreciating the challenges and hardships African Americans faced despite being free.
Whereas past celebrations have been held in the yard of the McLemore House, the 16th annual Juneteenth in Franklin will be recognized by daily updates on the Facebook page for the African American Heritage Society Monday through Friday, June 15-19.
Monday’s update will kick the week off with Franklin Mayor Ken Moore discussing the importance of Juneteenth, while Tuesday will follow with an interview with the McLemore family along with Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson.
On Wednesday, there will be an update on how the rehab at the McLemore House is going, and Thursday’s post will feature the Battle of Franklin Trust’s Kristi Farrow, who does tours at McLemore. Friday’s update will feature Schroer and Stacey Watson focusing on the late Denny Denson (iconic minister and Civil Rights activist from Williamson County) and the popular cakewalk named in his honor.
The commemoration will culminate Saturday, June 20, with Facebook Live featuring the American Legion, the raising of the flag and singing of the national anthem.
There will also be a virtual cakewalk through Facebook. Four cakes will be presented on the page at random, and as a photo of each one is posted, a trivia question will be included. The first person to answer the question wins the cake. The four cakes are provided by Mayor Moore, Mayor Anderson, the Franklin Police and Fire departments and the African American Heritage Society board members.