The annual Columbus/Bartholomew County Area Branch of the NAACP celebration of Juneteenth will be from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. today on Fourth Street in downtown Columbus between Washington and Franklin streets.

The local gathering serves as a reminder of slavery’s official end.

The event will feature free food, activities and elements of history and education, organizers said.

The day was first celebrated in 1865, when Texas became the final Confederate state to free its slaves, three years after the Emancipation Proclamation. The local celebration has unfolded the past 13 years, according to organizers.

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Local NAACP members have said in recent years that they see Juneteenth as far more than a look back at freedom’s beginnings. They mentioned that they view it as a way to celebrate diversity in general and black culture in particular.

They have mentioned that people of various races have little or no knowledge that the fight against slavery continued even after the law that made it illegal.

Also, local blacks have stressed that America’s independence traced to 1776 sometimes has a hollow ring to them when they recall that their ancestors were slaves in the nation.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.