Page 70 - Play Coastal Mississippi - Spring, 2024
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 Juneteenth - Celebrating Freedom story courtesy of Coastal Mississippi photo courtesy of 100 Men Hall
Juneteenth is a time of reflection, education, and jubilation as we gather to pay homage to the struggles and triumphs of the African American community.
On June 19, 1865, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, where U.S. General Gordon Granger read General Order No. 3, informing the citizens of Texas that all enslaved people were free. The "Freedom Day" celebrations that followed the announcement became known as Juneteenth, and more than 150 years later, Juneteenth remains the longest-running African American holiday in the United States.
The commemoration of Juneteenth means different things to the citizens of Coastal Mississippi, but everyone agrees the most important message is unity.
As Billy Knight, Mayor of Moss Point, is fond of saying, “We are all in this together.” That was never truer than last year in 2023 – the week of Juneteenth – when an EF-2 tornado destroyed nearly 100 homes and businesses in his small town. “What it’s shown me is that our people are resilient. People come together and help each other more when they really need help,” he said. “Sometimes we think we’re divided, but when things like that happen, we realize that we’re not as divided as we think we are.”
For the past century, Bay St. Louis has been home to 70 PLAY COASTAL MISSISSIPPI   Spring 2024
three pillars of Coastal Black history: St. Rose de Lima Catholic Church, St. Augustine Seminary, and 100 Men Hall. For Rachel Dangermond, the current owner of 100 Men Hall, the space itself tells a story, and the story is Black self-reliance and a self-directed community. Here along the Coast and particularly in Bay St. Louis, there is an amazing abundance of Black culture and history.
Artis Burney, the Executive Director of Cosmic Poetry Sanctuary in Vancleave, MS, concurs: “African American history is woven so intricately into the fabric of American history – artistic expression, professional fields. We all celebrate Black culture.”
Rip Daniels, owner of the Almanett Hotel & Bistro in Gulfport, sums it up best when he says, “Black history is American history. When I look at Juneteenth, I stick my chest out, and I feel like I’m paying tribute to those individuals who defended me and the freedom that I have here. It is a celebration of less to us than the Fourth of July.”
From lively parades and festivals to soul-stirring music performances, Coastal Mississippi offers a rich tapestry of experiences that’ll deepen your understanding and appreciation of Juneteenth. For the most up-to- date listing of all Juneteenth events, visit the Holiday Celebrations page at

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