Juneteenth to honor fathers in the Chattanooga area

Juneteenth to honor fathers in the Chattanooga area

June 19th, 2013 by Yolanda Putman in Local - Breaking News

Cheryl Norris Sanders speaks during a Juneteenth celebration.

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

• What: Juneteenth celebration

• When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., June 29

• Where: Eastdale Village Community United Methodist Church, 1403 Tunnel Blvd.

• Admission: Free

Not all men leave their families, and those who stay should be celebrated, Charlotte S. Willams says.

"We're honoring men who have supported their families. We want to show we have some in our community who have remained in our homes," Williams said.

Williams and Cheryl Norris Sanders are hosting the annual Juneteenth celebration, and this year's focus is fathers.

This is the third year Williams and Sanders have partnered with the Mary Walker Foundation and the Chattanooga News Chronicle to sponsor the event. WNOO-AM also is a sponsor.

The organizers are honoring men like the late Rev. Stanley Reuben Williams, Williams' father, who succumbed to diabetes and kidney failure May 17.

"My father wasn't perfect," she said. "He made a lot of bad choices. But the beauty of it all is that he did not allow those choices to define him. He had courage to try again."

Her father was pastor of Eastdale Village Community United Methodist Church and was married to her mother for 45 years.

"God used not-perfect people throughout the Bible. Through God's grace and by their faith they are examples," Williams said.

Sanders will talk about men who not only raised their own families but extended themselves to care for the community.

Organizers also will host an educational hour at the celebration when Eundra Porter, with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, will discuss HIV and AIDS prevention. There also will be a parent-led discussion about how to help children overcome academic struggles and be more successful in school and how to improve failing schools in the inner city.

The Juneteenth celebration commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and the enslaved were now free, according to the website www.juneteenth.com.

The news came to Texas two and a half years after Jan. 1, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamations.

According to the website, Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.

"Juneteenth is Independence Day for African Americans," said Sanders.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or call 423-757-6431.