DHEC Recognizes Juneteenth, Honors Leaders in the Fields of Environmental Protection and Public Health

On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, where they shared the news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were now free. The Emancipation Proclamation had officially ended slavery in the states fighting against the Union on January 1, 1863, but it only took effect when Union forces took control of an area. Of note, the first area it took effect was Beaufort and surrounding islands, since the Union already held this area.

Galveston and the surrounding area of Texas was the last area to fall to Union forces, so June 19, 1865 (Juneteenth) marks the end of slavery in the South.  This event led to Juneteenth as the nationally celebrated remembrance of the ending of slavery in the United States.

Juneteenth is a holiday that has many meanings for the community, and DHEC’s Public Health Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Deputy Area of Environmental Affairs are recognizing the important role African Americans have had and continue to have in the fields of environmental protection and public health. This includes, here at home in South Carolina.

At DHEC, we are committed to building upon our agency’s existing internal structures and community relationships as well as creating new ones to enhance health equity in South Carolina and better reach our vulnerable communities. While work is ongoing, we recognize that we all must continue to take actions to proactively address long-standing equity gaps and reduce disparities.

Celebrating Juneteenth

Many today celebrate this holiday by having educational programs and fellowshipping with family and friends. Some communities also raise the Juneteenth flag, which highlights this day’s connection to Texas, African Americans, and the reminder that those that were enslaved, and their descendants, were and are Americans.

To learn more about this holiday, you can visit National Registry, Juneteenth Organizations & SupportersThe Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History,and the Smithsonian African American Museum of History and Culture.

You can also search “Juneteenth events” online to find a Juneteenth Celebration near you! A few of those include:

  • June 19: The 5th Annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival – Columbia (Midlands)
  • June 19: Juneteenth Fest – Gaffney (Upstate)
  • June 19: Lowcountry Juneteenth Week – North Charleston (Lowcountry)
  • June 19: Cooler Fest Juneteenth Celebration – Manning (Pee Dee)

In addition, our Public Health team will be hosting several COVID-19 vaccine clinics and educational events with community partners this week as part of Juneteenth celebrations:

  • Friday, June 18, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m., Boykin Park, 801-899 West Hampton, Camden 
  • Saturday, June 19, 12 p.m. – 3 p.m., Founders Park, 120 York St. E., Aiken 
  • Saturday, June 19, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church, 1333 Penderboro Road, Marion
  • Saturday, June 19, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Smith Haven Park, 410 S Park St., Mullins
  • Saturday, June 19, 3 – 4 p.m., Women’s Missionary Society- Clarendon Chapter (21 AME churches)
  • Saturday, June 19, 5 – 8 p.m., Jolly Park, 102 Railroad Ave., Gaffney
  • Saturday, June 19, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Norton Thompson Park in Downtown Seneca, 300 Main Street, Seneca
  • Saturday, June 19, 12 – 5 p.m., Downtown Union 

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