ROCK HILL, S.C. - Essie Mae Washington-Williams will join Mount Prospect Baptist Church in Rock Hill, S.C., for its annual Juneteenth celebration June 17-19.
Juneteenth, the oldest celebration of the end of slavery, is now a worldwide celebration that commemorates African-American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. Juneteenth is considered the date when slavery really ended in America. Although rumors of freedom were wide spread, the announcement of emancipation did not come until Union General Gordon Granger arrival in Galveston, Texas to read general order no. 3, on the 19th of June, 1865, more than two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Organizers said the Juneteenth celebration will remind the community of its past and encourage its future. This year’s theme is "There Are No Chains Binding Me."
Williams, daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., will discuss her book "Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond" at a 9:30 a.m. program Saturday, June 18, at Tillman Hall at Winthrop. It will be followed by a book signing.
Other public events include:
• Friday, June 17, 7:30 p.m., Men of Distinction, Mount Prospect Baptist Church, 339 West Black Street.
• Saturday, June 18, 1:30-4 p.m., Walk of Freedom, old Friendship College campus next to Mount Prospect.
• Sunday, June 19, 3 p.m., speech by Essie Mae Williams, Mount Prospect Baptist Church.
Williams received her bachelor of arts degree from California State University in Los Angeles, where she majored in business education and minored in English. She received her master’s degree in education from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. During the past year, Williams received an honorary Doctor of Education degree from South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, S.C., where she completed her first three years of college.
Prior to working for Los Angeles Unified School District for 27 years, Williams taught various subjects in business education for three years in the Parochial School System of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Starting in 1970 at the Abram Friedman Occupational Center, Williams taught business education for 17 years. She was promoted in 1986 as an assistant principal over counseling services. She served in this capacity for 11 years in various adult schools until her retirement in 1997. She has received a number of awards, honors, and commendations for her years of commitment to education.
Since January of this year, Williams has traveled extensively on the East Coast as well as the West Coast, promoting her best-selling book "Dear Senator." In addition, "Dear Senator" has been endorsed by the Los Angeles Library Association for its historical contribution towards American history.
Other sponsors for the June 17-19 events are the City of Rock Hill’s No Room for Racism Committee, the Office of Multicultural Student Life at Winthrop, Clinton Junior College, Rucker Dental Services, Rock Hill Chapter of the NAACP, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, King Funeral Home, S.C. State University and the Culture and Heritage Museums.
For more information, call Ann Cain at 803/366-5398.