By JOHN McBRYDE
With talented vocalist Quintavious Johnson singing the national anthem, museum tours being offered, and the always popular “Denny Denson” cakewalk taking place, the African American Heritage Society will be hosting its 15th annual Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, June 15, at the McLemore House Museum at 446 11th Ave. N in Franklin.
Juneteenth is a celebration from slavery to freedom that began in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, and the African American Heritage Society has done its part to recognize that special day since it organized Williamson County’s first Juneteenth in 2005.
“We actually had Juneteenth before Nashville ever did, so we’re doing some things right here in Williamson County,” said Alma McLemore, president of the AAHS.
Juneteenth at the McLemore House, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., is a time to remember and share local stories of how freedom changed lives in Williamson County as well as all over America. There will be some seating, but attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets
“We generally have people coming and going throughout the day,” McLemore said. “We have different people coming each year. We have a vanload of seniors come from Nashville each year, and they always look forward to it.”
The day begins with the raising of the American flag and the Juneteenth flag by the American Legion Post 215.
“We always make sure the veterans are invited,” McLemore said. “We want to focus on the reason for that day and veterans are part of it.”
Johnson, 17, Franklin’s singing sensation who gained fame five years ago as a finalist on America’s Got Talent, will help get the day started with his rendition of the national anthem.
Following the opening ceremony, there will be various activities throughout the day, including soloists and gospel groups, recognition of the Pioneer/Freedom families honored at previous Black Tie Events, with special emphasis on the Carter House enslaved descendants, and plenty of storytelling.
For the sweet tooth, the “Denny Denson” cakewalk returns with delicious cakes donated by top cooks in the community. There will be door prizes every hour, artwork displayed by local artists, books by local authors and other vendors as well.
There will be free hot dogs, chips and strawberry soda for the kids provided by Mo-Better BBQ and Fish and the African American Heritage Society. Free ice cream and popsicles will once again be provided for the kids by AAHS and NHS Club 67. There will be barbecue pork and chicken, fish, hamburgers, hot dogs and sodas available for purchase by Mo-Better BBQ and Fish.
The event is being sponsored once again by Hard Bargain Association, a nonprofit organization that has been working diligently over the years restoring and redeveloping Hard Bargain, a historical African American neighborhood. Also sponsoring this event are Franklin Community Church, Crowder Trucking and Williamson Real Estate.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Juneteenth, there will be tours of the McLemore House, which was built by former slave Harvey McLemore in the year after the Civil War ended. Costs for the tour are $10 for adults, $5 for children and free for kids 5 and under.