The town of Spring Lake on Monday became the first municipality in Cumberland County to recognize Juneteenth as an official paid holiday for town employees.?
Juneteenth is the celebration of the end of slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation and is celebrated annually?on June 19.?
Kia Anthony, founder and president of Circa 1865, an organization that promotes unity within the African-American diaspora, has been pushing to get Juneteenth recognized in Cumberland County.?
”We received quite a bit of pushback from Cumberland County and they kind of pushed us to the back burner,” she said. “[They said] they would form a committee in order to address it again the next year.”?
Juneteenth:Fayetteville’s Circa 1865 promotes Black unity
More:Pitts: Groundbreaking for Civil War history center in Fayetteville to feature author, former governor
As a result, Anthony decided to reach out to municipalities while waiting to hear back from the county, starting with her hometown.?
”We started in Spring Lake, which is where Circa 1865 and the Juneteenth Freedom Festival is based, that’s our home,” she said. “So, of course, I put it to the town and they were really excited about it. They put it on the agenda to be addressed and here we are now.”
The Spring Lake Board of Alderman unanimously voted Monday to officially recognize? the day as a paid holiday for the town.
Spring Lake Mayor Larry Dobbins said he?hopes it will be something the town is known for.?
”One of the things I have maintained is that when you look at a lot of municipalities, towns, cities, villages, they sometimes have what you may call a marquee event, something that set them aside from everybody else” he said. “So, I would hope that the Juneteenth Celebration may turn out to be our marquee event. We can endure the fact that we won’t be able to celebrate it in grand fashion in 2021, but we can?sure enough start looking forward to make an event in 2022.”
Anthony said that even though the the Juneteenth Festival, organized by Circa 1865, has previously been held at Festival Park in Fayetteville, it will now be held at Carver’s Creek State Park in Spring Lake.?
Dobbins said he’s honored for Spring Lake to be the first town in Cumberland County to make Juneteenth an?official paid holiday.?
”With the persistence from Ms. Anthony, not willing to give up on us and her hometown, it’s important that we be the first or somewhere out front in that,” he said. “I’m pretty sure there are other cities in North Carolina, maybe even other states that have already adopted Juneteenth as a holiday. So, for us, it’s pretty much in line with some of the broader thinking.”?
On Tuesday, the Senate passed the legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. The House is expected to vote on the bill Wednesday.?
Support local journalism with a subscription to The Fayetteville Observer. Click the “subscribe” link at the top of this article.
Staff writer?Akira Kyles can be firstname.lastname@example.org.