Harriet Alexander, Daily Mail, May 26, 2023
The organizers of a South Carolina town’s Juneteenth celebrations have apologized after advertising the event with a banner featuring only white people.
Greenville residents were shocked to see the banner hanging from a lamppost in their town, pitching the event as ‘a celebration of freedom, unity and love’.
South Carolina town uses white models to celebrate Juneteenth pic.twitter.com/sIv3Uv4evc
— Jack Poso 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) May 26, 2023
‘Meanwhile in Greenville, South Carolina…’ tweeted the account Black-Owned SC, with a puzzled face emoji.
Multiple people accused the organizers of attempting to ‘gentrify’ the event.
‘Yeah… Y’all gentrifying Juneteenth already,’ said one.
‘WHAT?! Gentrification of #Juneteenth?’ asked another.
‘Is captain marvel coming to gentrify juneteenth?’ another said.
Another asked: ‘Who approved this? I know greenville got black folks there.’
One said the imagery was symptomatic of a wider problem.
‘This is how Black History gets completely distorted, repackaged, to be palatable for white Americans, then and erased,’ she said.
‘This is 100% doing harm. This is 100% buying in to the idea we can’t be whole on our own. Not even for one day.’
Some thought the image of a white couple, used to advertise the black festival, was fake.
‘I know y’all lying. Who is in charge of this?!’ asked one person.
One responded: ‘Not fake! The whole committee is full of black folks too.’
Rueben Hays, who is black, co-founded the organizational group, Juneteenth GVL, with two other black men.
The board is entirely black, as is the staff, according to their website.
They began hosting celebrations for Juneteenth last year.
Hays on Thursday apologized for the banner, and pointed out it was one of many, designed in a bid to be inclusive.
‘Juneteenth GVL would like to offer an apology to the community for the presence of non-black faces being represented on two flags representing Juneteenth,’ he said in a statement.
‘We acknowledge this mistake having been made and will correct the error quickly.
‘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 the black culture through the message and meaning of Juneteenth.
‘We take full responsibility for this misstep. Our dedicated team has worked tirelessly to curate remarkable Juneteenth experiences…and we anticipate a beautiful celebration that everyone will be pleased with and proud of.
‘Moving forward, we are committed to ensuring that our events fully the diversity, inclusivity, and historical significance of Juneteenth.’
The federal holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, when the last slaves were finally freed, completing the work of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.
On that day 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas and announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state were free by executive decree.
Joe Biden proclaimed June 19 a federal holiday in 2021.