MARIETTA, Ga. – The Cobb County chapter of the NAACP held its first Juneteenth festival commemorating the end of slavery as a federally-recognized holiday over the weekend.
The celebration was also the first event since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to be held at Marietta Square.
Last year, Cobb’s NAACP chapter celebrated Juneteenth with a memorial rally and march. This year, the organization was able to return the event to the square, where over 50,000 people attended in 2019. The two-day festival on Friday and Saturday included live music; arts and crafts; food; and free health screenings.
“We’re excited,” said Cobb NAACP President Jerriene Grimes. “It’s time to really start moving for our community.”
Omara Ramsey, 39, shared her excitement about the newly recognized holiday.
“That is the bomb dot com,” she said. “Even though it’s been this long, hopefully we can get other things changed as well, but it’s everything.”
Her glee was tempered with concern, however, over recent events that underscore the division in how different groups in Cobb view racism. On June 10, the Cobb County School Board voted to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory — a school of analysis that studies the historical roots of racism in institutional structures — that could impact teachers’ ability to even talk about Juneteenth.
“I think Juneteenth is a part of American history and it needs to be taught in Cobb County schools,” she said. “This is our history.”
Army veteran Jonathan D’Angelo said he wants more than just a holiday.
“I like it because it’s the government acknowledging the existence of Juneteenth — it’s acknowledging slavery and the end of slavery,” he said. “On the other hand, though, they’re not really doing anything for us, for the culture, for the Black American community.”
D’Angelo was also displeased with the school board’s recent vote.
“I think that’s messed up,” D’Angelo said. “Because there’s so many Black people here in Cobb County. I hate to see the fact that, you know, we’re not putting forth more of our history into the history of this county and state and country.”