The Fort Jackson community honored the end of slavery in the United States with a Juneteenth 5K Family Fun Run June 18 at the Outdoor Recreation Center.
Juneteenth, a federal holiday held on June 19 of every year, honors the anniversary of the day in 1865 when the last slaves in Galveston, Texas were informed they were free. It is also a day to celebrate African American culture.
Though the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 ended slavery in the states in rebellion against the United States, and the 13th Amendment officially banned it throughout the nation, the battle for equality continued.
President Joe Biden signed Juneteenth in law on June 17, 2021.
“Some slaves were already free because their previous owner acknowledged that slavery had ended, but some areas in the U.S. still did not recognize it and kept it hidden,” explained Pamela Long, event coordinator and fitness and wellness instructor for the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. “Once it all came out in June, Juneteenth was born. I think being a part of the celebration shows respect for Juneteenth (and what it stands for).”
“This run shows that people are aware of what is going on in our country,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Rickey G. Jackson, Drill Sergeant Academy commandant. “When you look at our military community and outside community, it’s all one. It shows they support equality and one another. One team, one fight.”
More than 50 runners and walkers of all ages, genders, religions, and nationalities showed their support of not only the event, but of their sisters and brothers in arms both past and present.
“I mentioned to the team (at the academy) I was going to run for Juneteenth and represent,” Jackson said. “I had support here today from the Drill Sergeant Academy.”
Despite the climbing morning heat, the runners and walkers began their journey at the center and made their way around Semmes Lake to end where they started. A spread of snacks and cold drinks were presented to the participants once they returned.
After the 5K, they enjoyed fresh fruit, cold water and a little bit of chocolate, Long said.
Once everyone returned from the route, many posed for photos in front of a Juneteenth sign hung on the center’s fence and socialized with friends and coworkers.
“I thought the run was great,” Jackson said. “Juneteenth means we recognize an era that wasn’t so favorable in our country. It was our history and we won’t forget that. Juneteenth shows the progress in our country to make change. We are recognizing … what it means to everyone, not just an isolated group, but as a country. We recognize Juneteenth and what it means to our Army.”