City of Washington celebrates Juneteenth, unveils new historic marker


WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) –Saturday, people were celebrating the end of slavery across the United States. It’s known as ‘Juneteenth,’ and it’s now a federal holiday.

People in Eastern North Carolina were taking part in a special commemoration in Washington for the first city-wide Juneteenth celebration. Locals honored black history and took the time to educate those around.

City officials were showing the importance of freedom. The day-long series of events began with the unveiling of a new historic marker tribute in honor of the legendary Hull Anderson.

“The Washington Underground Railroad Museum and us, the Historic Port of Washington Project, felt it was important to tell the story of Hull Anderson,” said Ray Midgett, President of the Historic Port of Washington Project. “Juneteenth was an appropriate time because it is the celebration of the freedom of African Americans after the Civil War.”  

Born nearly two and a half centuries ago, Anderson was a historic African-American icon in Beaufort County.

“Hull Anderson was born in 1794, enslaved here in Washington, and was able to buy his freedom and became a legendary person here in Washington,” said Leesa Payton Jones, co-founder and executive director of Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.

The new marker is located at Crab Park, offering a short description of Anderson’s historic significance.

“It’s important to share history, and especially Hall Anderson’s history, because he started off under adverse circumstances, and he was able to rise above those circumstances,” said Jones. “It helps us to be able to know that no matter where we start at in life, we can always strive to make a better life for ourselves.” 

Following the unveiling ceremony, tours of the Underground Railroad Museum and an art exhibit at the Harbor District Market were home to conversations. Those joining shared the importance of Juneteenth.

“Juneteenth gave all enslaved people their freedom, it’s a very significant day and I am so glad it’s finally here and we can celebrate it nationwide,” said Jones.

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