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Saturday, July 13, 2024

The Bridge hosts 2nd annual Juneteenth celebration

By James Phillips, The Community Journal

The Bridge Educational Philanthropy hosted its second annual Juneteenth Celebration of Excellence Luncheon at the Jasper Civic Center on Saturday. 

The event commemorates Juneteenth, a day marking the emancipation of the last enslaved African Americans in 1865. 

The luncheon also honors local residents for their significant impact on the community. The honorees this year were Mable McNealey, Mary Slaughter and Queen Tarvin, who were recognized for their combined 100 years of experience in education as well as their years of serving communities throughout Walker County. 

“I’m so gracious and appreciative for the opportunity to be one of the recipients,” Slaughter said. “I look at myself and think that I do nothing any different than anyone else. I just thank God for giving me the opportunity to it to be here today.”

Kristian Douglas, executive director of The Bridge, highlighted each of the honorees’ commitment to education, empowerment and cultural heritage.

“These women embody the spirit of Juneteenth through their commitment to education, empowerment, and the uplifting of our youth,” he said. “Their work not only enriches the minds of our future leaders but also reinforces the importance of representation and cultural heritage in education.”

Jeremy C. Kirk, assistant dean for access and engagement at the Tickle College of Engineering at The University of Tennessee, served as the keynote speaker at the luncheon. Kirk urged attendees to reflect on how they can contribute to breaking down barriers in marginalized communities.

“Black folks today are better off because of the sacrifices of their ancestors,” he said. “The generations of those who come after us will be affected by the work that we do today.”

After the luncheon, a question and answer session was held to discuss ways to impact the community. 

Later that evening, a pageant was held. Rhythm “Blu” Crowe was named Little Mr. Juneteeth. Nylah Brielle Morman was named Little Miss Juneteeth. Lennox Hampton was crowned Mr. Juneteeth and Vannah Rae Hampton received the honor of Miss Juneteeth. 

“This was our first pageant and the goal was to foster positive community involvement and help develop a greater sence of confidence, poise and self-esteem in participants,” said Tiffany Oliver, coordinator of the Miss Juneteenth Pageant.

More about The Bridge Educational Philanthropy 

The Bridge Educational Philanthropy is a non-profit organization that aims to improve education globally by supporting innovative programs and initiatives. Its mission is to bridge the gap between education and social impact, fostering inclusive and equitable learning environments.

Some of their focus areas include:

– Early childhood education

– STEM education

– Literacy and language development

– Special education

– Education policy and advocacy

The Bridge Educational Philanthropy works with various stakeholders, including educators, policymakers and community leaders to create sustainable and effective solutions in education.

James Phillips
James Phillips
James Phillips is a proud native of the Walker County community of Empire. He currently lives in Jasper with Andrea, his wife of 23 years, and his five children, Stone, Breeze, Daisy, Joy, and Zuzu. Phillips has won nearly 200 awards over his 26-year career in media. He has also been a statewide and regional speaker on the social media/digital media within the newspaper industry. Phillips hobbies include spending time with his family and owning Jasper-based New Era Wrestling.

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