Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Big Juneteenth celebration in St. Petersburg takes a pause

ST. PETERSBURG — More than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and slaves were free.

That day, June 19, 1865, is now commemorated annually by African-Americans across the country. It's known as Juneteenth or Freedom Day. The Tampa Bay area will observe it with events including the cleanup of a historic black cemetery in Pasco County on Tuesday and festivals in Plant City, Brooksville and Port Richey today. In St. Petersburg, though, a community celebration held since 1992 in a city park has been called off.

"I was devastated, and I was really heartbroken about it," said Faye Dowdell, who organized the event in recent years before putting it in the hands of another resident last fall.

"It's a really beloved event, and people are going to miss it," said Elizabeth Brincklow, arts and international relations manager for the city of St. Petersburg. The city provided $8,453 for the event last year, and a little over $3,000 was promised for this June.

Dowdell took over as organizer in 2007, after Jeanie Blue, the woman who launched the celebration, became discouraged and gave it up after 14 years. Blue said at the time that running the event had become stressful and financially burdensome. Dowdell encountered similar problems and last fall turned it over to a man called Alex Burns. Then, she said, "I heard from him he put it in a forced hiatus."

Michael Jefferis, superintendent of St. Petersburg's parks and recreation department, said employees have tried to contact Burns for six months. The Tampa Bay Times has also been unable to reach Burns.

"From the city's perspective, our concern was that we didn't receive an application for co-sponsorship," Jefferis said. "It's certainly unfortunate. It's always been a great event, always a meaningful event."

Dowdell will be involved in a smaller event this year. She has been invited to share the Juneteenth story Tuesday at the West St. Petersburg Community Library at St. Petersburg College.

In Plant City, the annual celebration will go on as usual. It will include entertainment, food and fishing, said Sharon Moody, president of Plant City Black Heritage, who organized the first Juneteenth event several years ago.

Moody said her group advertises the celebration at schools, churches, the housing authority and even door to door. "It's a nice crowd," she said. "We're looking for a better crowd this year."

Paul Boston began Brooksville's Juneteenth observance with a rally on the courthouse steps in 2004. These days the area celebrates at the Frederick Kelly Elks Lodge.

"What we try to do is inform the community about the history of slavery, educate our children about that message and explore the negativity of modern slavery, low-paying jobs, renting instead of owning your own house, inadequate education," he said.

The Black Caucus of Pasco County will continue its tradition of cleaning up historic Mount Carmel Cemetery.

The African American Club of Pasco has organized a more traditional Juneteenth celebration. The festival at the former Booker T. Washington School in Port Richey will include a garage sale, health screening and guest speaker Evangeline Moore, daughter of pioneer civil rights leaders Harry T. Moore and his wife, Harriette, who were killed when a bomb exploded in their home in Mims on Christmas 1951.

About 200 to 300 people attended the event last year, Dan Callaghan said. "It has grown each year, and it's really a lot of fun."

Juneteenth began in Texas, where it has been celebrated as a state holiday on June 19 since 1980.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at wmoore@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2283.

>>If you go

Juneteenth events

Plant City: Juneteenth Culture Fest 2012, noon to 7 p.m. today at Samuel W. Cooper Park, 912 E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. R&B, hip-hop and gospel music, dance festival, horse rides for children, fishing and DJ Chase from WBTP-FM 95.7.

Brooksville: Juneteenth Historical Festival, noon to 10 p.m. today, Frederick Kelly Elks Lodge No. 1270, 510 E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Historical ceremony with song and dance, youth festival, vendors, food, music, poetry, and health care, jobs and voting information.

Land O'Lakes: Cleanup of Mount Carmel Cemetery on Ehren Cutoff, 8 a.m. to noon Tuesday. Call (813) 312-6345 or (813) 783-6862.

Port Richey: Juneteenth Celebration, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. today, former Booker T. Washington School, 6105 Pine Hill Road. Garage sale, health screening, voter registrations, food, karaoke and spoken word. Guest speaker Evangeline Moore, daughter of civil rights leader Harry T. Moore and Harriette Moore.

St. Petersburg: Juneteenth Celebration, 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, West St. Petersburg Community Library at St. Petersburg College, 6605 Fifth Ave. N. Learn about Juneteenth and its meaning with Faye Dowdell and make an African drum. There will be prizes and fun for kids.

Big Juneteenth celebration in St. Petersburg takes a pause 06/15/12 [Last modified: Friday, June 15, 2012 9:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs talk social issues, protests at team meeting

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Each time Dirk Koetter walks through the door of his office at One Buc Place, he passes by the only jersey framed on his wall.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) wears custom cleats to represent Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) as part of the NFL???‚??„?s "My Cause, My Cleats Campaign" before the start of a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.
  2. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA

    Airlines

    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  3. St. Petersburg man shot in arm during home invasion robbery

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One man was arrested on charges he shot another man in the arm while attempting to rob a home in what St. Petersburg police are calling a drug-related incident.

    John Alam, 25, faces charges of home invasion robbery, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon after deputies said he tried to rob a home Wednesday morning and ended up shooting someone. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Bob Buckhorn, a mayor who knows what he wants, surveys constituents on what they want

    Local

    TAMPA — Focus has not been a problem — or really, even a question — during the six-plus years that Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been in office.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn keeps a digital countdown clock in his office showing the days, hours. minutes and seconds until he is term-limited out of office on April 1, 2019. As of Wednesday, he had 584 days to go. [City of Tampa]