WCMS Statement on Juneteenth

June 15, 2021

Western Carolina Medical Society will mark Juneteenth as a paid day off where employees are encouraged to reflect, learn and take action for racial justice.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of legal slavery in the United States. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863, the news did not reach enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, until June 19, 1865, where it was met with shock and jubilation.

The newly-freed people in Galveston celebrated after the announcement, and the following year, freedmen and freedwomen organized the first of what became the annual celebration of “Jubilee Day” on June 19 in Texas. Over time, the annual celebration spread from the Black community in Texas to the rest of the United States. Juneteenth celebrations focus on education, history, self-improvement, culture, and pride.

Here are a couple ways that people can observe Juneteenth in and around Asheville:

  • On June 18 MAHEC will be hosting the "Role of the Black Church in Health Care” with the opportunity to earn CEUs. You can find more information or register here.
  • GRIND, Asheville's first Black-owned coffee shop will be hosting the first annual GRINDfest featuring 25 Black businesses of its Black Wall Street Cohort. There will be events June 18 - 20 on Depot Street in Asheville that celebrate Black business and entrepreneurship.
  • On June 19, from noon until 8 pm there will be a Juneteenth celebration in Martin Luther King Park in Asheville featuring speakers, music, kids’ activities, vendors and more.
  • In Waynesville on June 19, the Smoky Mountain District of the United Methodist Church will host a Juneteenth Freedom Celebration at Lake Junaluska from 2 pm to 6 pm featuring speakers, storytellers, music and more.