The Venue 757 In Portsmouth was the site for a Juneteenth.Love family observance on Saturday June 15. The celebration in the 18,000-square-foot facility included a variety of cultural arts and entertainment, speakers, vendors and food.
The event was organized by Ernest Lowery, founder of Juneteenth.Love, who served as the event’s emcee, along with Herman Hurston, partner Venue 757.
Juneteenth is an African-American holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865. This was nearly two and a half years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. It is observed today in at least 42 states and the District of Columbia.
Speakers delivering short messages of challenge to embolden the Black Community were Del. Cliff Hayes, 77th District; Don Carey, retired NFL player and founder of the REECH Foundation; Brenda H. Andrews, publisher and CEO of The New Journal and Guide; and Dr. E. Curtis Alexander, historian, author, and curator of the Bell Mills Historical Society of Chesapeake. A short presentation on Sickle Cell Disease was given by Diane Creekmore, Toni Moore, and Marie A. Jackson-Horne. Verandall Tucker, a descendant of “First 20” recorded Africans to arrive on the America’s shores, made a welcoming appearance, as did Sheri Bailey, Virginia’s official Juneteenth representative.
Entertainment was provided by Corey, the Blind Man, storyteller and drummer, with members of his dance troupe; Chariots of Fire, dancers and dramatic performers, founded and directed by Ruverta Holmes; and three music recording artists Dee-Dee-Gee, Dee Polite, and Regina Scott Sanders.
“There was something for everybody,” said Lowery, whohas organized Juneteenth events in the area for about a dozen years and estimated that 75 to 100 people have attended each one.
Lowery added, “We had a stellar lineup this year, good food, and good entertainment. We’ve always had a good time. After 13 or 15 years of hosting Juneteenth events, I would say the benefit of organizing these events is we tell our history. If we don’t tell our history, who will?”