COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – It was a historic day for the city of Columbus as Mayor Skip Henderson officially proclaimed this week Juneteenth Jubilee and Unity Week.

In 1863 President Lincoin signed the emancipation proclamation, but it wasn’t until two years later that all enslaved people in the U.S. would truly be set free on June 19, 1865. The day we now celebrate as Juneteenth. 

While celebrations have been going on for years to commemorate this historic day in U.S. history, it wasn’t until 2021 that Juneteenth was declared a national holiday.

Now, Columbus city leaders are aiming to bring the community together for the week-long celebration.

Councilwoman Toyia Tucker is Co-Chair of the committee that brought the Juneteenth Jubilee and Unity Week to life, along with Civic Center Director Rob Landers.

“This is historic and we’ve talked about this throughout our entire meetings,” said Landers. “Yeah we’ve done one day events here in Columbus, but to do seven days of events to celebrate is historic.”

With events happening every day this week, Councilwoman Tucker says it allows more people to celebrate and express what Juneteenth looks like to them.

“Normally what you saw was Juneteenth, we would have multiple events throughout the whole community not together, but separate,” said Tucker. “So, Unity Week is bringing everyone to the table and letting them have their expression of what Juneteenth means to them.”

The press conference did more than just notify the public of the week’s events. There was a reenactment of the 1865 executive decree, explanation of the Juneteenth Flag, performances by the Springer cast of the Color Purple and speakers from the community like City Manager Isaiah Hugley who before getting off the stand proclaimed Martin Luther King Jr’s famous words.

“I just say to you,” said Hugley. “Free at last, free at last, thank god almighty we’re free at last,” which was meet with cheers and chants of “Amen!” from the crowd.