HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — This weekend, America celebrates the end of slavery in this country with Juneteenth. It’s the second year this has been recognized as a federal holiday.
Along with the music that comes with the festivals, there is also a message.
“Surviving slavery, surviving Jim Crow, surviving the oppression of the civil rights movement, as we know that there was more than one. To me, it’s a celebration of survival. It was then it is now,” said Alesia Parson McBean, program director for the Doleman Black Heritage Museum and event coordinator for Hagerstown 2022 Juneteenth celebration.
McBean says she’s also taking advantage of an opportunity to educate her community about the significance of Juneteenth.
“It’s an opportunity for them to learn and understand their part in this history because what I need for everyone in this community to understand and know first know your history,” she said.
This weekend’s activities begin Friday, they’re focusing on the meaning behind Juneteenth with Rev. Don Marbury of Ebenezer AME Church, and a karaoke session after. On Saturday, they plan on starting the day with a unity walk with Minister Troy Gandy of Asbury Methodist Church. Later, they’ll have various dance workshops for kids, and adults, and gospel performances. On Sunday they’re hosting “ The African-American Experience through Song and Dance” at Bridge Life Church.
“All of this is being done to bring awareness of our existence into these spaces… where you don’t see an overabundance of us have an activity and so we’re bringing it here,” said McBean.
McBean is an advocate and leader in the Hagerstown community. She says raising awareness about the African-American community can be a challenge.
“We’ll never be in a good stance when it comes down to our progression in America will never be in a good stance as long as people don’t see themselves through our lenses and or see us themselves in us,” she said. “We don’t have to fight so hard anymore for survival. However, it’s a fight every day to exist in your own skin. So for the future of our communities, we’re just going to continue to build on and use utilize our survival skills. “
McBean says she’s taking on this challenge because it’s important.
“That’s the mission of the Doleman black heritage museum, to bring the enlightenment and the education of African-American history to this community is nothing to be feared, but it should be referenced,” said McBean.
Part of building awareness involves building a new home for the Doleman Black Heritage Museum. McBean says she working with state lawmakers to get funding to begin renovating the former Coke Cola Bottling and Administration building. She’s hoping they open the doors to their new home by 2024.