Portsmouth’s third annual Juneteenth gathering brings celebration, education


By Kasie McCreary - [email protected]



Attendees of the third annual Juneteenth gathering enjoyed a free community cookout to celebrate the holiday.

Attendees of the third annual Juneteenth gathering enjoyed a free community cookout to celebrate the holiday.


Drew Carter

Maureen Cadogan stands with some of the refreshments and educational aids she provided at the 14th Street Community Center. Strawberry soda, she explained, holds significance to the celebration. According to Cadogan, enslaved people were forced to make the drink for their oppressors, but tasting the drink themselves would incur severe punishement, even death. When the enslaved people were freed, they could enjoy the drink without consequence.


Drew Carter

Children play on the basketball court during a 3x3 tournament at the Juneteenth gathering. Woods and Cadogan hope that by educating future generations about racial inequality, they will enjoy a world with fewer obstacles.


Drew Carter

Nancy Woods, BIPOC & Civil Rights Coordinator of River Valley Organizing, pictured at her booth during the Juneteenth celebration.


Drew Carter

PORTSMOUTH—Residents gathered over the weekend to observe Portsmouth’s third annual Juneteenth gathering organized by Unified Quest: a day celebrating freedom and justice for the African American community.

A basketball tournament, community vendors, inflatables, live music and plenty of educational opportunities were on hand for those who attended the free community event.

Recognized as a federal holiday by President Joe Biden’s administration in 2021, Juneteenth (a portmanteau of “June nineteenth”) commemorates the date in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, TX were freed.

The Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in January of 1863, but without an army to enforce the order, enslaved people in Texas still lived under immense oppression.

On June 19th, 1865, Maj. General Gordon Granger issued General Orders No. 3, or the Juneteenth Order, declaring that all enslaved people in Galveston were freed. While the order encouraged enslaved people to stay at their current residences and work for their former enslavers for wages, it was a suggestion unheeded by many.

Galveston then became the epicenter for Juneteenth celebrations with observance of the day spreading quickly across the country.

Now as a federally recognized holiday, Juneteenth presents valuable opportunities not only to mark progress already made, but to learn from history and look to the future.

Maureen Cadogan supplied refreshments, a paint and sip station, and an exhibit of historical artifacts so that all who attended the gathering could learn from the history of racial oppression in our country.

Across three tables in the 14th Street Community Center, Cadogan gestures to historical relics from slavery leading up to the Jim Crow era—one which enforced segregation, oppression, and bred denigrating stereotypes against the black community.

She pointed to a pair of small shackles on display as she explained that she never wants to see children wear them ever again—literally or metaphorically. Education, for Cadogan, is critical in fighting racial oppression.

“Any chance I get an opportunity to share with our youth and to make them understand and know who we are as a people; we’ve come through hard trials and tribulations and obstacles, but we have conquered. We have a way to go—we’re not there yet—but we have come a long way,” she explained.

“We stand on the shoulders of greatness, so don’t forget your ancestors who struggled and died and were whipped for nothing so that you could be here,” Cadogan added.

While there is obviously much to celebrate on Juneteenth, for many, there is still work yet to be done. Nancy Woods, BIPOC and Civil Rights Coordinator of River Valley Organizing, said that while Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday is “a milestone for black communities everywhere,” she would like to see more than just symbolic changes, locally and nationwide.

A criminal justice system which disproportionately affects people of color, violent policing, and a lack of Black individuals working within those systems are just some of the many ways the black community is systematically denied the same chance at “the American Dream,” according to Woods.

“I would like to see black judges, I would like to see black prosecutors, I would like to see more black policemen, I would like to see black EMTs—qualify us, because we are qualified,” Woods said. “We are not ignorant, and we’re not dumb people. We are very intelligent and very smart, and I would like to see a community that thrives so when my daughter is of age, she’ll have a great opportunity.”

Woods’ daughter is 11 now. In a time where black children are often forced by systemic oppression to grow up too fast, Woods and Cadogan hope to see their community join together in support of eradicating these obstacles for younger generations.

For racial allies in our community, empathy, sincerity, and a willingness to listen are all great places to start.

“Every chance you get, immerse yourself in some education,” Cadogan says to community allies. “And spend some time with people you don’t normally spend time with. Get to know each other—we’re all the same. If you go to the hospital and you need blood, how are you going to know if came from a black person or a white person? It’s all blood. We need to embrace each other and love each other. Love is the key,” she said.

“Just support us and be wholeheartedly sincere,” said Woods. “Just know the truth behind what we go through. Because I could never receive the privilege that [white people] receive. But we should all be privileged.”

Attendees of the third annual Juneteenth gathering enjoyed a free community cookout to celebrate the holiday.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/06/web1_DrewJuneteenth1.jpgAttendees of the third annual Juneteenth gathering enjoyed a free community cookout to celebrate the holiday. Drew Carter

Maureen Cadogan stands with some of the refreshments and educational aids she provided at the 14th Street Community Center. Strawberry soda, she explained, holds significance to the celebration. According to Cadogan, enslaved people were forced to make the drink for their oppressors, but tasting the drink themselves would incur severe punishement, even death. When the enslaved people were freed, they could enjoy the drink without consequence.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/06/web1_Juneteenth1.jpgMaureen Cadogan stands with some of the refreshments and educational aids she provided at the 14th Street Community Center. Strawberry soda, she explained, holds significance to the celebration. According to Cadogan, enslaved people were forced to make the drink for their oppressors, but tasting the drink themselves would incur severe punishement, even death. When the enslaved people were freed, they could enjoy the drink without consequence. Drew Carter

Children play on the basketball court during a 3×3 tournament at the Juneteenth gathering. Woods and Cadogan hope that by educating future generations about racial inequality, they will enjoy a world with fewer obstacles.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/06/web1_Juneteenth2.jpgChildren play on the basketball court during a 3×3 tournament at the Juneteenth gathering. Woods and Cadogan hope that by educating future generations about racial inequality, they will enjoy a world with fewer obstacles. Drew Carter

Nancy Woods, BIPOC & Civil Rights Coordinator of River Valley Organizing, pictured at her booth during the Juneteenth celebration.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/06/web1_Juneteenth3.jpgNancy Woods, BIPOC & Civil Rights Coordinator of River Valley Organizing, pictured at her booth during the Juneteenth celebration. Drew Carter

By Kasie McCreary

[email protected]

Reach Kasie McCreary at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at [email protected]

© 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Kasie McCreary at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at [email protected]

© 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved