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On Wednesday, June 19, Bethel New Life, Hope Presbyterian, and Second Baptist Church of Wheaton joined together to celebrate Juneteenth.

More than 70 people including members of the respective churches, family and friends, gathered at Hope Presbyterian Church in Wheaton to fellowship with each other and learn about the significance of the day.

The Rev. R. Keith Beachamp, pastor of both Hope Presbyterian and Bethel New Life churches, opened with a word of prayer and spoke blessings upon the community of black, brown and white individuals who had come together for a common purpose.

Food, of course, played a large part in the celebration. Members brought favorite dishes to share including traditional dishes: smoked ribs and black- eyed peas! But Juneteenth celebrations always include an element of education.

The day included Juneteenth trivia and the reading of important quotes by African Americans. The focus was on remembering that although President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, enslaved individuals in Texas did not hear the news until June 19, 1865, two months after the Civil War ended at Appomattox, Virginia, on April 9, 1865.

Juneteenth is also known as Emancipation Day and Freedom Day. Although 2024 marks only the third time it has been celebrated as a national holiday, the occasion has been celebrated in the African American community for over 150 years.

Pastor Kevin Williams of Second Baptist Church ended the celebration with a prayer and words from American writer and civil rights activist, James Baldwin, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”