Jacksonville Juneteenth Moves Downtown, Dr. Kinniebrew Mural Dedicated – WLDS

Community leaders gathered in downtown Jacksonville over the weekend to celebrate the end of slavery and dedicate a new addition in place.

The Jacksonville Chapter of the NAACP hosted Jacksonville’s annual June 19 celebration Saturday at Central Park Plaza. The annual celebration commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas with news that the war was over and the slaves there were free.

The June 19 observance became an official state and national holiday last year.

Saturday’s event began with an opening ceremony as well as the dedication and unveiling of the city center’s newest mural honoring Dr. Alonzo Kinniebrew.

Kinniebrew was the first African American in the United States to open a surgical hospital, located in Jacksonville from 1909 to 1927. This year marked the first time the annual event was held downtown.

Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard presented a proclamation for Juneteenth at the ceremony. Afterwards, the mayor said the event continued a long tradition of partnering with the local NAACP to honor the day.

Years ago Alderman Tony Williams and a number of us did Juneteenth at Community Park. But we have a strong Central Park and it’s fitting to have it here with the Dr Kinniebrew mural here and Juneteenth. Everything is falling into place and a lot of good people have put a lot of effort into it. We must recognize our history and we are happy to be part of it today.

Mayor Andy Ezard looks up at Dr. Alonzo Kinniebrew during the dedication Saturday in Jacksonville.

After the ceremony, visitors were treated to a host of vendors and attractions as well as a performance by Robert Sampson of Jacksonville.

Jacksonville NAACP President Polly Williams speaks to the crowd at the dedication of the Dr. Alonzo Kinniebrew mural and opening ceremony for the June 19 celebration.

Jacksonville NAACP Chapter President Polly Williams said she was thrilled the Dr. Kinniebrew mural was completed and installed in time for the celebration. “I’m very happy that we made it in time and I want to thank all the community that came together. I think we had a very good turnout.”

Williams went on to say “I’m so proud that everyone has come together to do this and I hope we continue because it means the community working together, all races and creeds.”

David H. Henry