June 21, 2014
The beating of the drums livened up a day of festivities at Piedmont Virginia Community college as people gathered to learn more about Juneteenth.
“Juneteenth is a celebration of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation,” says Denise Benedetto, reenactor for the Women of the Civil War.
The oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery dates back to 1865.
“Because we didn't have those 21st century apparatus it took time for the word to get by,” says Benedetto.
Bendetto portrayed Mary Elizabeth Bowser throughout the two day event. Bowser was a spy during the Civil War and Benedetto says she loves telling her history.
“I enjoy it because I look for ‘wow I didn't know that’,” says Benedetto. “It's not paid, but it's one of the most rewarding pays that I get by sharing that history.”
As part of PVCC's 14th annual celebration local authors and vendors set up shop around the event. Those who attended got a chance to browse through books, art and traditional jewelry, but Benedetto says it all circles back to one thing.
“It's a part of history that all of us have overlooked or not been taught,” explains Benedetto. “I think we can embrace the future better if we have an understanding of who we are collectively and where we've come from so we don't make the same mistakes as we've done in the past.”
The historic day is traditionally celebrated on the 19th of June and has gained more attention from organizations around the U.S. 30 states, including Virginia, recognize the historic day.