The Aviation and Missile Command hosted the Team Redstone Juneteenth celebration June 21 in the Bob Jones Auditorium on Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
Every year, the numerous commands and federal agencies located throughout Redstone Arsenal volunteer to each host a monthly cultural observance. This year AMCOM chose to host the Juneteenth Celebration, with the AMCOM Employee Diversity Board taking the lead to plan and execute the event.
Juneteenth is the newest federal holiday; President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into public law June 17, 2021. It commemorates the date on which the final group of enslaved people in Confederate Texas received the news that they were freed by executive order in 1865 — more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation Jan. 1, 1863.
This year marked the first AMCOM cultural observance held in person after nearly three years of virtual events due to the global pandemic. In keeping with the celebratory nature of the event, as well as the ability to once again gather together, the planning committee wanted to capture a festive atmosphere. As attendees entered the auditorium, they were greeted with a selection of live saxophone music played by local musician Tommy Friend, and cake, punch and balloons were displayed in the lobby.
Local Huntsville historian William Hampton served as the keynote speaker and took the attendees on what he called, “a little stroll back through history.” Starting with the years leading up to the civil war, to the Emancipation Proclamation, Juneteenth and finally, the ratification of the 13th Amendment.
“There was no one moment when freedom came to the enslaved in the United States,” he said. “When President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the clouds did not part, the sun did not shine beams of freedom, and the shackles of slavery locked for nearly 250 years did not magically fall away. The truth is much more complicated.”
Hampton talked through that complicated truth with dates, pictures and historical lessons, even tying in the Huntsville, Alabama and Redstone Arsenal connections.
Brian Wood, the executive director of the AMCOM Logistics Center, served as the host of the event. He said in addition to the monthly cultural observances held on Team Redstone, AMCOM also has an Employee Diversity Board, whose members work to celebrate its diverse workforce.
“It makes me feel good,” he said. “First and foremost, we are citizens of the United States, and it helps us all understand the heritage of each of our cultures.”
A video of the ceremony is available to watch online, https://www.dvidshub.net/video/888108/juneteenth-celebration