Presented by the Bulloch County Branch of the NAACP and the Willow Hill Center, the June 14 Juneteenth commemoration featured entertainment, a Juneteenth exhibit, a tour of the historic Willow Hill School and the center’s other exhibits, plus other activities and refreshments.

Juneteenth
Erin Thompson performs a praise dance during the Juneteenth commemoration and celebration at the Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center on Friday, June 14.
– photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

One of the highlights was Dr. Maxine Bryant’s recitation of an original poem titled “We Be Free.”

The poem is from the point of view of a newly emancipated enslaved person and kicked off her speech, which highlighted modern “freedom keepers” as opposed to ancestors who were “freedom dreamers.” She asked everyone in attendance to participate in creating a better day. “If you can see it, you can be it,” she concluded.

Juneteenth
Before giving the benediction at a Juneteenth commemoration and celebration, Rev. John McPhatter joins participants in song at the Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center.
– photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

The original Willow Hill School near Portal, Georgia, was founded by formerly enslaved families for their children nine years later, in 1874. The current building was constructed on or near the same site in 1954.

Juneteenth
Dressed in period attire from the time of emancipation, Dr. Nkenge Jackson-Flowers, left, gives guests a tour of the exhibits at the Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center during a Juneteenth commemoration and celebration.
– photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Juneteenth
While Bulloch County NAACP president Yevette McCall records video, Tashiena Canty White leads a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the Black National Anthem, during the Juneteenth commemoration and celebration.
– photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Juneteenth
After the commemoration of Juneteenth at the Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center on Friday, June 14, the celebration begins outdoors with dancing and food.
– photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Juneteenth
The Juneteenth commemoration and celebration at the Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center.
– photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff