Air Force Armament Museum Hosts First Juneteenth Event


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EGLIN AFB – The timing couldn’t have been better.

Allison Morris, founding member of the African-American Military Heritage Society, is delighted that the organization’s inaugural event for Juneteenth took place just after US President Joe Biden enacted the June 17 law declaring it a public holiday federal.

Juneteenth observes the end of slavery in the United States, marking the day in 1865 when news of emancipation reached Galveston, Texas.

“Obviously we didn’t know this was going to happen,” Morris said. “It was very surreal. It was impeccable timing. I felt like we were making history because it was the first Juneteenth they had at the weapon museum.

Despite the bad weather caused by Tropical Storm Claudette, more than 400 people entered and left the museum. The African-American Military Heritage Society plans to make the Juneteenth celebration an annual event, Morris said.

Previously:African American Military Heritage Society to host Juneteenth event at Armaments Museum

Devon Smith performed the black national anthem,

The event began with an opening prayer from Terrance Bulger, pastor of the Greater Peace Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Walton Beach, and welcoming remarks from De’Carlo Garcia, the master of ceremonies. Next, saxophonist Devon Smith performed the black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.

“It was a great rendition, his rendition of the song,” Morris said.

Morris also loved the rare solo performance by Cheryl Jones, which usually occurs with Jones and Company, and the original music by Crystal Smith.

“It was a treat,” Morris said.

Jones and Company musician Cheryl Jones performs at the African-American Military Heritage Society's 2021 Juneteenth event at the Air Force Armament Museum.

Morris also noted that they had red velvet Bundt cakes and strawberry soda to symbolize the blood spilled by slaves during the Civil War.

The event also featured presentations showcasing local black-owned businesses, Morris said. The owners were interviewed during a 40-minute presentation that looped through the theater area at the entrance to the museum, she said.

“We asked questions like, ‘How did you start your business? “” When did you start your business? “” What advice would you give to a future business owner? “” How is your work / life balance? ”Morris said. “We wanted to do a little more education. We put entertainment in it, but we wanted to inspire people to start their own businesses. “

African American Military Heritage Society Vice President and Event Master of Ceremonies De'Carlo Garcia thanked guests at the conclusion of the inaugural program and June 17 celebration at the Armaments Museum.

The organizers and speakers also informed the participants about the meaning of Juneteenth.

“We read the information on what Juneteenth is, what Juneteenth means to Americans in general,” Morris said. “We can celebrate both July 4th and this day. They are both significant in the history of the United States.

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Many attendees told Morris that they felt like they were part of the community again, she said.

“We have a lot of people from other areas where they were from, they celebrated June 15, but then they came here and it didn’t happen,” Morris said. “They were very happy to see it happening here. They said it was beautifully done.

Some of the local guest speakers were also honored to be a part of the event, she said. Among them were Tená V. Baker, activist and author; Elesia Marie, actress and director; Gregory Seaton, education and civil rights activist; Charles Thomas, representative of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity; Karen Lodie Hennessy, Outreach Coordinator for the Emerald Coast Sickle Cell Association; Chuck Sanders, owner of Harbor Snacks, the only black-owned business in HarborWalk Village; and Marlayna Goosby, founder of Grow Your Gift Conservatory of Music.

Musician Cheryl Jones entertains Saturday during the inaugural Juneteenth and Celebration program at the Air Force Armament Museum.  The event was organized by the African-American Military Heritage Society.

“They talked about what Juneteenth meant to them,” Morris said. “Thanks to this initial act, we can now vote. Things kept happening. There is still work to be done, but they shared their experiences, what it meant to them – to have rights, to be able to vote. We have to know where we came from to know where we are going.

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Morris said she believed the event would be even more successful in the future with the collaboration of local officials. Cinco Bayou City Councilor and Acting Mayor Danny Dillard and Crestview Mayor JB Whitten were in attendance on Saturday. It was Whitten’s birthday, she said.

“We definitely got their attention,” Morris said. “We can’t wait to put on another one. I am very grateful to everyone who came, even during a tropical storm.

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