Juneteenth event to be held at Possum Point facility
Juneteenth is a word that holds much meaning, but it’s still a word with which many people aren’t familiar.
“Juneteenth — it’s a celebration of freedom. It’s a celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation, which was signed Jan. 1, 1863,” explained Claudius Bowden Jr., who helped found Dreamers United, a branch of the Possum Point Players community theater group that seeks to bring diversity to the theater.
“But in Galveston, in the state of Texas, they kept their slaves in bonds for another two and a half years after it was signed,” he noted. “People would ask how that could happen. There are a couple of stories going around. One was that the messenger that was sent to deliver this message was killed.
“There’s a story about the Southerners, and that they had a lot of farmland that needed tending to. They weren’t going to do the work, so they kept the slaves on to do the work,” he explained.
Bowden said that President Abraham Lincoln eventually read about Galveston and sent Union soldiers to the town to free the slaves.
“When the slaves found out they were free, they celebrated. That celebration was through food, through dance.”
In February, Dreamers United put on an original play written by Bowden and his Dreamers United partner Rosa Barnes to celebrate Black History Month, and Bowden hopes Juneteenth will be well received as follow-up to the production.
“After our Black History Program at Possum in February, I thought this was a great time to do something like this,” he said.
“We’ve been trying to get more of a multicultural aspect here at the theater, to let people know that this is their actual community theater,” added Mary Cahill, Possum’s executive administrator. “This is just one way of having this celebration to make people aware that this is their community theater.”
The event will take place on June 23, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., on the theater’s grounds. The entrance fee is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 or younger. The festival-like celebration will include food and crafts, a steel-drum band, martial arts exhibit and more.
“The way we are presenting Juneteenth is basically like a big old picnic,” said Bowden. “We’re going to bring back games like the sack races, three-legged races, face painting. We are also having reenactments from that period of slavery. There are going to be songs that will tell about that time period, the old Negro spirituals.”
Bowden said the event is open to all and that he hopes that community members will attend and maybe learn a little bit of history while having some good old fashioned fun.
“It’s going to be fun and educational all at the same time,” he said. “We’re hoping that, with the families that come, they’re going to learn a lot about our past and give all kids some foothold on their past.
“I strongly believe if you don’t know from which you come, you don’t know where you’re going,” he said. “We just want people to come out and learn, be education about black history and to have fun. We want the community at large to come and interact with each other, because that what it’s all about.”
For more information or to purchase tickets, call (302) 856-4560 or visit possumpointplayers.org. Possum Point Players is located at 441 Old Laurel Road in Georgetown..