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Wyoming Celebrates Juneteenth

This year, Saturday marked the first federal, state, and municipally recognized Juneteenth celebration in Wyoming ever
Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 5:15 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Wyoming has a history of being the “Equality State,” but this year the state motto of “wild and free” carries a little more weight for some communities.

For African Americans, Juneteenth is their day of freedom.

“For black people it’s just like the fourth of July...You know we should be leading the charge in everything that comes to equality, this state should be out in the forefront of it.” Stephen Latham- President of the local NAACP unit 4108

Saturday marked the first federal, state, and municipally recognized Juneteenth celebration ever. And it was celebrated in Lions Park at noon.

“Ya, I want all people to come out. We’re going to be here in Cheyenne the north location of Lions Park we’re going to have food, games. We’re going to learn about the history of Juneteenth, continue this tradition and we want all the community to be involved, said Jalissa Fletcher - Second Vice President of NAACP Wyoming.

Festivities will include a soul-food taster, music, games, open mic and poetry.

Juneteenth marks the first day slaves in Texas were notified that President Abraham Lincoln has signed the emancipation proclamation, making all African Americans free citizens under the law.

“There are people of color here right. There are people who were born here, generations of people of color that are here. Our history is also here and its very relevant.” Jalissa fletcher - Second Vice President of NAACP Wyoming.

Wyoming has a long history of being a safe haven for former slaves. Many ventured west to build their fortunes and to live in peace and freedom.

People like Lucretia Marchbanks, hotel owner and rancher in1876 settled in Beulah. Barney Ford entrepreneur, civil rights activist opened The Ford and Inter-Ocean Hotel in Cheyenne in the 1870s

James Beckwourth who was a mountain man, Crow-Nation’s trapper and military scout in the 1860s. America Kitrell, who resided in Cheyenne after 1917 and had her memoir written about her days in slavery, and so many others.

“There’s a need for people to know we have different cultures here. You know America is a melting pot, it’s not just one race but all different ones. We should be aware of everybody that lives here.” Stephen Latham- President of the local NAACP unit 4108

The Proclamations for Juneteenth from the Governor and the Mayor will be read at the beginning of the celebrations on Saturday.

May organizations volunteered time, food and services to help make this day’s festivities possible. Honorable mention goes out to Pioneer Temple, Daughter’s of Elk, Western Star Lodge #6, New Kingdom Holy Temple, New Hope Second Baptist, Unity, Allen Chapel, God’s Love and Hope Fellowship, No Greater Love, San Kofa and NAACP Wyoming 4108.

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