GREENVILLE, S.C. — On June 19, St. Anthony of Padua Church here celebrated Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States.
St. Anthony Church marked the emancipation of the last known slave in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, with a special commemoration, according to Patrick Tuttle, OFM. More than 300 people attended, including friars from Washington, D.C., and Anderson, S.C. Erick Lopez, OFM, from Holy Name College, was also on hand, and is serving the parish for the summer.
Participants celebrated with Xanthene Norris, a noted speaker and valedictorian of Sterling High School, the last integrated school in Greenville, and Fr. Ferdnand Cheri, a Franciscan who spoke on, “Black Holy Days of Obligation.” He discussed the need for people of color to teach their children about Africans in the Bible.
The McCullough group, a Gospel group of singers and instrumentalists, provided music. The night included soul food and dancing to rhythm and blues favorites.
The parish’s young people gave three reflections that suggested that more emancipation is needed in the world. They noted emancipation from such issues as abortion, child labor and human trafficking. “Emancipation of the human family is yet to be fully realized,” they said.
Parishioners pledged to continue the work of emancipation.
Shown in photo above are members of the parish participating in a group dance.