New signage displaying the history around emancipation and the freeing of enslaved people was debuted during the African American Heritage Society of Williamson County's Juneteenth celebration. The marker features the story of Gen. Gordon Granger, who occupied areas of Franklin during the Civil War and the Battle of Franklin. Granger later traveled to Galveston, Texas, in 1865 to spread the news of the Emancipation Proclamation to enslaved people who had not yet heard the news of the proclamation when it was issued two and a half years earlier.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden signed a bill that declared that day, commonly known as Juneteenth, to be a new federal holiday.
Black leaders and city officials spoke during the celebration near the new marker. Although the AAHS' celebration was held virtually in 2020, the nonprofit has held Juneteenth celebrations in the city for the past 17 years.
"When we honor each other’s story and we recognize it and we are wanting to tell each other’s story and live into it, we’re a better and stronger community because of it," Franklin City Administrator Eric Stuckey said. "Celebrating Juneteenth—as we have for many years but it continues to expand and become more of a presence in our community—is a representation of that.”
Featured speaker and Franklin native Jaqueline Johnson said the day is a significant one in Black history, but there is still work to be done in achieving equity and equality in the community.
"I’m not here to put down the holiday or disparage the holiday or tell you not to celebrate Juneteenth as we have for many, many, many years. But I am to hear to ask that you don’t get sidetracked," Johnson said. "That you don’t take your eyes off the prize and that you continue to look beyond the surface, keep your ears to the wind and listen first, plan second and act thirdly. We now have a federal holiday—let’s celebrate and continue to celebrate. But let’s also stay in the fight until the war is over, the victory has been won and change has come, not just for a few of us, but for all of us."
See more about the history of Juneteenth in Franklin here.