Chloe Henderson was crowned Miss Juneteenth 2023 on Friday evening at the Miss Juneteenth Pageant, held at the G.W. Carver Center in Marshall.
A months-long celebration of Juneteenth kicked off that night with the 2023 Miss Juneteenth Program, hosted by the Marshall-Harrison County Juneteenth Committee and Anointing Grace Ministries.
With opening remarks from founders and co-chairs of the Marshall-Harrison County Juneteenth Committee, Mr. Don Ravenell and Mrs. Alma Ravenell, the program featured judges Mrs. Andrea Wright Singleton, Mrs. Katina Lovely and Mr. Reggie Cooper.
The ceremony included inspirational speaker Pastor Denise Foxx of Anointing Grace Ministries, who spoke to the community and the candidates about four tenets of living including faith, family, finance and fitness. She drew analogies from the local pine trees of the area and their taproot systems to these tenets, with the importance of faith as an anchor to help the others reach success in everyday life.
Two members of the Las Vegas Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club craned their necks skyward Monday afternoon as they raised a blue-and-red Juneteenth flag outside Henderson City Hall Monday afternoon.
The flag raising ceremony helped kick off the city’s planned commemoration of Juneteenth, a federal holiday that takes place annually on June 19th to celebrate the last slaves being freed in Galveston, Texas.
Judy Ann Young, chaplain of the Las Vegas Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club, offered an invocation at the beginning of Monday’s ceremony.
“On this day I give thanks to all of our ancestors, freed or non-freed, I give thanks for the Juneteenth committee, to our state government, to the city of Henderson, that saw fit to honor Juneteenth,” she said.
Henderson Councilman Dan Stewart spoke about the importance of the city commemorating Juneteenth. Evans also recognized the local Buffalo Soldiers motorcycle club members at the event and how their work supports Juneteenth.
At the conclusion of her speech, two Buffalo Soldiers raised the flag into the sky as the crowd gathered outside applauded.
The Buffalo Soldiers motorcycle club’s main mission, according to its official Facebook page, is to, “educate the public on the history of the African Americans of the 9th and 10th Calvary who sacrificed their lives so that our country could be what it is today.”
“Juneteenth is an important part of Black history and we represent Black history, as far as the African American soldiers that fought from the Civil War all the way to World War II and beyond so it’s very important for us to be apart of this,” said Dave McKinney, the club’s secretary. “One of our mottos is to educate America and the world on Black History, especially historical facts that aren’t in history books.”
The city of Henderson will hold multiple events at the Water Street Plaza this month during a three-day Juneteenth Festival. Events include a play on June 16 about Harriet Tubman, one of the creators of the underground railroad that helped enslaved people get to freedom; songs of freedom by the Vegas City Opera on June 17; and a celebration of live poets and exhibits on June 19.
Her annual walks attracted thousands of followers, and ultimately the attention of lawmakers and President Joe Biden, who invited Lee to the White House when he declared Juneteenth to be a new federal holiday in 2021.
Last month, Lee’s alma mater North Texas University, from which she earned a master’s in teaching in 1963, awarded her with an honorary doctorate in recognition of her tireless social advocacy work.
At the Philadelphia flag-raising, Lee implored young people to get involved with their communities in pressing issues of the day.
“Joblessness, homelessness, health care that some of us can get and others can’t, and climate change that we are responsible for: if we don’t do something about it, we’re all going to hell in a handbasket,” she said. “It’s your responsibility and I ask that you not take it lightly.”
The diminutive Lee with a thin voice belying her age pounded her fist on the podium to make her point.
The two-hour flag-raising ceremony included drummers, singers from the Urban Guerilla Orchestra, a recitation of a work by poet Langston Hughes, and speeches about Juneteenth’s history and the unification of Philadelphia’s African, African American, and Caribbean population groups.
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