Weeklong celebration culminates in first Juneteenth Heritage Breakfast

Published 12:10 am Thursday, June 20, 2024

SALISBURY — A week of Juneteenth celebrations culminated in the first-ever Juneteenth Heritage Breakfast using the theme of “Breaking Every Chain: Making Equality a Priority.”

The crowd gathered June 19 in Hall Gym on West Bank Street for the praise-filled service with Marcus McCombs Jr. serving as the emcee. 

“I’m so very excited,” said McCombs as he welcomed everyone to the event. He told the crowd how much he loved to sing and loved church, and therefore led the group in a praise song before beginning the program.

Linda Black, who served as Juneteenth chair, said being the chair on this first ever event meant a lot.

Plus, she said, “it meant a lot to have a crowd to come out this morning on our first one.”

The hope is that the celebration would continue next year and it would be the second annual one, she said.

A time of praise continued as the Community Mass Choir sang three selections throughout the morning, which brought the crowd to their feet each time.

A poem on sisterhood was shared by the Rev. Dierdre R. Parker, pastor of Terrells Chapel AME Zion Church and founder of Diava2De Ministries, LLC. 

Her passion, according to the website, is “helping others, especially women, to find their voices and thereby their personal power,” and she founded the ministry because, she said, “someone did this for her.”

Following the breakfast, Jaiylah Feaster, a student with Triple Threat Dance and Charm, performed a samba for the crowd.

Feaster, who has been dancing for 10 years said she felt it was important to be there so she could “show things I can do and it might inspire others.”

Serving as guest speaker for the special event was the Rev. Corine Mack, president of the Charlotte Mecklenburg NAACP. As she took the podium, she expressed her thanks for the invitation to attend and speak.

She began by telling the audience that “we are on the front line in the battle for justice” and proceeded to share about Juneteenth and said she hoped “when you leave, you are fired up.”

During her presentation, Mack shared the history of Juneteenth, noting that this day, which celebrates the news of emancipation and freedom to enslaved Black people in Texas in Galveston, 1865 became a national holiday only three years ago in 2021.

It was on Dec. 4, 1865, that Mack said, North Carolina ratified the Emancipation Proclamation and then added that there were three areas, California, Oregon and Washington, that never allowed slavery.

She reminded them that the struggle didn’t end with emancipation.

She encouraged the group to remember and reflect on several things including how slavery ended, to reject hate and hate mongering, to celebrate their ancestors and to teach their children.

Shantay Redd and David Miller were among those in attendance at the event and when asked what they hoped to take with them, Miller said, “knowledge” to which Redd agreed.

McCombs thanked Mack for her powerful message before introducing Gemale Black, president of the Salisbury-Rowan NAACP, who provided some closing remarks. He took this opportunity to thank all of the volunteers for their work both during the week and at this event and recognized area elected officials and thanked them as well.

When asked about the event and what it meant to him to be able to have it for the community, Gemale said, “we are definitely grateful to have this event, to put on this first Heritage Breakfast and hope we can continue and make it an annual thing.” He likewise expressed his gratitude for the community and the partnership during the week.

“We are happy, we’re grateful, we had a great turnout, we had an amazing speaker. So we are very pleased,” he said.