The town of Miami Lakes and its Cultural Affairs Committee celebrated Juneteenth with a mix of history, prayer, music and singing.
The two-hour event, held at the Roberto Alonso Community Center, marked the end of slavery in Texas 156 years ago, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
Ever since, African-Americans have celebrated freedom on June 19th with picnics, days off from work and in other ways.
This year, the day became a federal holiday enacted by President Joe Biden.
In Miami Lakes, about 50 people gathered to hear Mayor Manny Cid present a proclamation to recognize Juneteenth.
“We want to make it bigger and better next year and look forward to having it become an annual event that the Cultural Affairs Committee sponsors,” said Suzanne Choopani, a committee member who acted as the evening’s mistress of ceremonies.
Committee members led other presentations during the evening.
Elsa Reus read a prayer and Charles James spoke to the occasion and its history. Saxophonist Michael E. Kennedy performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which the audience sang along to.
The hymn is from a poem written in 1900 by James Weldon Johnson to music composed by his brother, J. Rosamond John- son, in 1905 to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday.
It is considered to be the Black National Anthem.
The Rev. Daryl Jones, senior pastor at The Rock Fellowship Church in Pembroke Pines, talked about love of self and love of others, Choopani said.
“He was inspirational,” Choopani said.
Jones is a former University of Miami football wide receiver, a member of the 2001 National Champi- onship team and a veteran of the NFL. He played for the New York Giants, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings.
Committee Chair Neill Robinson presented a video of people around the world singing a song called “It’ll Get Better,” Choopani
said, and the audience sang along to that, too.
“It was a fun, uplifting event with all the music and the sing-alongs that we had,” Choopani said. “Mr. Kennedy was a fantastic musician.”
Guests at the Town of Miami Lakes Juneteenth celebration sing during an evening of history, prayer and music held at the Roberto Alonso Community Center. Photo Courtesy of the town.