20th Annual Juneteenth Celebration

  • DATE: Wednesday, June 19th

  • TIME: 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

  • LOCATION: McLemore House Museum (446 11th Avenue North in Franklin)

  • Free tours of the McLemore House Museum at noon.

  • Street gathering at 5 pm.

Juneteenth is a celebration from slavery to freedom that began in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. Though Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation two and a half years before, the enslaved in Galveston, Tx. were not informed of their freedom until June 19, 1865. Major General Gordon Granger, the namesake of Fort Granger here in Franklin, made his famous proclamation on that date, that “all slaves are free”, thus commencing a wave of jubilation that became known as Juneteenth, the celebration of victory over slavery.

AAHS will join our nation in celebrating freedom and recognizing the important sacrifices made by those who have gone before us. Our community-wide celebration begins with the raising of the American and Juneteenth flags by American Legion Post 215. There will be food trucks and other vendors present, along with live DJ music and many fun activities including the Denny Denson cakewalk, named after the late Reverend Denny Denson, beloved minister, community leader, and civil rights activist, who was part of a memorable cake walk, when he attended the event one year. There will be free hotdogs, chips, popsicles and games for the kids, along with “Moozie, the Cow” and the traditional “Strawberry Soda” which symbolizes the bloodshed of the enslaved and pays homage to their sacrifice.

Those attending will hear from well-known USCT reenactors, Bill Radcliff and Gary Burke, along with the appearance of reenactor of “President Abraham Lincoln”. Another highlight of the day will be the opportunity to meet Kevin Greene, the great-great-grandson of Frederick Douglas, the famous abolitionist, who was the leader of the abolitionist movement and for African American civil rights. There will be soloists and performances each hour during the day with door prizes every hour!

Free museum tours will be offered at 12:00 p.m. for an opportunity to learn more about the life and legacy of Harvey McLemore and the rich African American history embedded in the soil and soul of Franklin, Tennessee. The celebration will end at 233 Natchez Street with a special gathering at 5:00 p.m. where another historic building, “Bubba Gentry’s Store”.will have a plaque unveiled. Bubba Gentrys’s Store was a neighborhood grocery store in operation during the Civil Rights Era. James “Bubba Gentry” was the owner of the grocery store, which was very important to the Natchez community for it provided an opportunity for the local residents to purchase food and other necessities and many could walk to the store from the surrounding neighborhoods if they didn’t have transportation. Many locals who lived in the area during that time fondly remember going to “Bubba Gentry’s” store on a daily basis. It was a staple in the community and as gentrification is rapidly taking away so much of the past and the historic character of the Natchez Street National Registry District, AAHS’s goal is to educate the community on the importance of preserving and maintaining as much of this community’s history as possible and for the community to partner in these efforts. AAHS is erecting the plaque to recognize and ensure that Gentry’s Store, which is listed on the National Register is not forgotten.

After James and his wife, Josephine passed away, their daughter Evelyn Hickerson, established a foundation in their honor which continues to be a thriving non-profit organization. The Gentry Educational Foundation is making a monumental educational impact in the lives of the youth in the Williamson County Community. To learn additional information, please visit the foundation’s website http://www.gentryed.org. The foundation celebrates the legacy and life of the Gentry’s.