PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Community members in Bay County gathered on Sunday for a celebration to remember.
It’s all for the celebration of Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States in the 1860s.
“It’s history… It’s all of our history,” Kierra Raffington, owner of Motiv Boutique, said. “Juneteenth benefits everyone because when you think about 1865, that really wasn’t that long ago. So now we all get to come together, and who doesn’t want to celebrate that, right?”
Gospel singers came together to sing with the crowd in Tommy Oliver Stadium.
The LEAD Coalition and Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church also awarded a special loan.
“Organizations are collaborating in order to provide the education and encouragement for minority businesses in our local community,” Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church Senior Pastor Dr. Jesse Nelson said. “On Juneteenth, we want to distribute another $5,000 loan to one of our recent graduates of our program, WB Services.”
Government leaders also came out to make proclamations, honoring the day locally.
“Bay County Board of County Commissioners officially proclaim June 19, 2022, as the day to celebrate Juneteenth 2022 and ask citizens of Bay County to gain an understanding of the significance of this celebration in African American history and the heritage of our nation,” Bay County Commissioner Robert Carroll read.
“On behalf of the city commission, the staff, and the residents, I hereby recognize Sunday, June 19, 2022, as Juneteenth to acknowledge the historic significance of the day and recommit the city to work toward dismantling institutionalized racism,” Springfield Mayor Ralph Hammond read.
Some event-goers said the best part was just getting to spend time with one another.
“I’m from Panama City, so it’s the community for me,” Raffington said. “It’s to see my cousins, my uncles, my old teachers, my pastor, my brother’s here, my kid is here. To be a part of an event like this is just about giving back to my community. They give back to me because I am a business owner. But that’s really the biggest part to me.”