Anger as white couple is used to promote Juneteenth event

Mildred Europa Taylor June 05, 2023
Locals in Greenville, South Carolina, are angry over an image of a white couple on a banner promoting a Juneteenth event. Photo: Daily Mail

Locals in Greenville, South Carolina, are angry over an image of a white couple on a banner promoting a Juneteenth event. The banner was one of 10 designs hung across Main Street in honor of a three-day event organized by the nonprofit organization Juneteenth GVL Inc.

“An upstate celebration of freedom, unity & love,” the banner promoting the event reads while also featuring the photo of a white man and white woman smiling. The banner has since sparked outrage after it went viral on social media. “This is how Black History gets completely distorted, repackaged, to be palatable for white Americans…and erased. This is 100% doing harm,” one Twitter user wrote. “This is 100% buying into the idea we can’t be whole on our own. Not even for one day.”

Another social media user said: “This was disrespectful and it shows no sense of love of Black people or our history. Why would you put the descendants of the people who put us in chains on a flag that celebrates our freedom? Unite with your own first before you start hugging others.”

Greenville’s Fighting Injustice Together activist Bruce Wilson said he was disappointed at the organizers. “I was appalled. I was saddened, I was angry,” Wilson said. “We have to remember what Juneteenth is about. It’s about freedom. It’s about the freedom of slaves. I’m the first to say that White America can celebrate Juneteenth, I just don’t think White America should be the face of Juneteenth.”

Wilson and other activists have called for a boycott of the event but the organizers have since apologized and vowed to remove the banner. They said their intention was not to make the event exclusively Black as that is not in the spirit of unity.

“This error was an attempt at uniting all of Greenville and thereby a slight oversight on one individual’s part that prevented us from fully embracing the rich potential and celebrating the depth of black culture through the message and meaning of Juneteenth,” the event’s founder Rueben Hays said in a statement posted to Twitter on Thursday.

Juneteenth GVL Inc. was co-founded by three Black men and currently has an all-Black board and team. They started hosting Greenville’s annual Juneteenth event in 2022, according to The Daily Beast.

Also known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day in the United States, Juneteenth celebrates the freedom of some 250,000 enslaved people in Texas in 1865, some 153 years ago.

Although it is not the day slavery legally ended, it is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States.

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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