Piqua to celebrate Juneteenth

By Haylee Pence

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PIQUA – In honor of Juneteenth, the city of Piqua’s Community Diversity Committee will be hosting a celebration and flag raising at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 20 at City Hall.

At the event, the committee will read two proclamations from the Piqua City Commissioners. The first proclamation is recognizing and celebrating the Juneteenth holiday and its history, including the history of the city of Piqua’s celebrations of the holiday. The other proclamation is recognizing the centennial anniversary of the Mills Brothers.

The Juneteenth National Independence Day is a holiday that recognizes and commemorates the end of slavery. Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln, the Union soldiers reached Texas to declare the freedom of slaves on June 19, 1865. The following year was the first Juneteenth celebration in Texas, which slowly made its way to other states. The holiday became a federal holiday in 2021 and is celebrated throughout the entire nation.

The city of Piqua has also held previous celebrations. “The importance of the end of slavery was celebrated in Piqua by our citizens with meetings, picnics, and parades,” stated local historian and committee member Jim Oda.

The committee has provided flags to various businesses and organizations throughout Piqua including the YWCA Piqua, Piqua Public Library, Edison Community College, Miami County YMCA, Jamieson Yannucci Funeral Home, Melcher Sowers Funeral Home, Hartzell Propeller, the Randolph and McColloch Freedom’s Struggle Complex, and French Oil.

“We are happy to participate in this initiative. Count us in,” stated President of Hartzell Propeller J.J. Frigge.

The Juneteenth flag has the same colors as the American flag, which represents that the former slaves are American citizens as well. The flag also contains an arc, a star, and a burst surrounding the star. According to committee member Leesa Baker, the arc represents “a new horizon, meaning fresh opportunities and promising futures for Black Americans.” The star represents the freedom in all 50 states for every Black American, as well as the Lone Star State where celebrations first began. The burst surrounding the star is “meant to reflect a nova — or new star – which represents a new beginning for all.“

The Community Diversity Committee was recently created by the city of Piqua to “address diversity issues within the City,” according to Vice Mayor Kris Lee. The committee is in the organizational phase currently, and this Juneteenth celebration is the first event the committee has hosted. The committee consists of eight citizens of Piqua.