The organizers of the Juneteenth celebrations in a South Carolina town have apologized after advertising the event with a white-only banner.
Greenville residents were shocked to see the banner hanging from a lamppost in their town, presenting the event as “a celebration of freedom, unity and love.”
“Meanwhile in Greenville, South Carolina…” the Black-Owned SC account tweeted, using a surprised face emoji.
Several people accused the organizers of “gentrifying” the event.
“Yeah… You’re redecorating Juneteenth already,” one said.
Greenville, South Carolina advertises its Juneteenth celebration with a banner featuring a white couple
‘WHAT?! Gentrification of #Juniteenth?’ asked another.
“Is Captain Marvel coming June 1980 to gentrify?” said another.
Another asked, ‘Who approved this? I know Greenville has black people there.’
One said the images were symptomatic of a wider problem.
“This is how black history is completely distorted, repackaged, to be palatable to white Americans, and then erased,” she said.
“This is 100% harmful. This is 100% agreement with the idea that we cannot be whole on our own. Not even for one day.’
Some thought the image of a white couple used to advertise the black festival was fake.
‘I know you are lying. Who’s in charge of this?!’ one person asked.
One replied, ‘Not fake! The entire committee is also full of black people.’
Rueben Hays, who is black, co-founded the organizing group, Juneteenth GVL, with two other black men.
The board is completely black, as are the staff, according to their website.
They started organizing celebrations for Juneteenth last year.
Hays apologized for the banner on Thursday, pointing out it was one of many designed to be inclusive.
Rueben Hays, executive director of Juneteenth GVL, apologized for the banner on Thursday
The committee produced several posters, but one featured whites only
“Juneteenth GVL would like to apologize to the community for the presence of non-black faces on two flags representing Juneteenth,” he said in a statement.
“We recognize that this mistake was made and will quickly correct the mistake.
“This mistake was an attempt to unify all of Greenville and therefore a slight mistake by one person that prevented us from fully embracing the rich potential and celebrating the depth of black culture through the message and significance of Juneteenth.
“We take full responsibility for this misstep. Our dedicated team has worked tirelessly to create remarkable Juneteenth experiences… and we expect a wonderful party that will make everyone happy and proud.
“Going forward, we are committed to ensuring that our events take full advantage of Juneteenth’s diversity, inclusiveness and historical significance.”
The federal holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, when the last slaves were finally freed, completing the work of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.
On that day, 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas and announced that the state’s more than 250,000 enslaved black people were free by executive order.
Joe Biden declared June 19 a federal holiday in 2021.