City of Grambling celebrates Juneteenth

The city of Grambling will kick off its annual Juneteenth activities on Wednesday, June 15. There will be a “Raising of the Flag ceremony” and Watermelon Eating at 5:30 p.m. at the City Park.
There will be a health and wellness fair from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., June 16, in the Grambling Community Center. The fair will be hosted by the Greater Grambling Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by True Care Dental. The free event will have topics such as diabetes education, health facility as well as hospice care, reverse mortgage and long term insurance information.

Diabetes testing and other screening will be available on a limited basis. Lunch will be provided to those who attend. To register, please call 243-1858 or 475-8401.
The Juneteenth Pageant, presented by Zeta Phi Beta, will be held at 7 p.m., June 16 in the T.H. Harris auditorium and is open to the public.

Every year, young ladies from the area compete in a pageant that shows their beauty, elegance and pride in their heritage. They come to compete for the titles of Little Miss, Miss Junior and Miss Juneteenth.

The participants for this year are: Division 1 (Ages 5 – 10: Chirstan E. Bates (Ruston), Jamela Bishop (Ruston), Sydney Millage, (Grambling), Jaide Patterson, (Jonesboro) and in Division II (Ages 11 – 17): Christall Bates (Ruston), Alexis D. Felton (Ruston), Al’Niece Andrews (Ruston) and Jameliah Blockson (Ruston).

Friday, June 17 – Fish Fry at 11 a.m. at the Community Center and 3 on 3 Basketball Game at 3 p.m. in the Intramural Center; Saturday, June 18 – Parade, Kids World, Antique Car show and Crawfish Boil at 9 a.m. in the Grambling Park, Music by Tawana Tarvin, D.J. Rob Lloyd; Sunday, June 19 – Reflection Luncheon, Ecumenical Gospel Program at 2 p.m. in the Black & Gold Room.

The history of the Juneteenth Pageant started with a conversation between to ladies at a picnic. During the Annual Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Picnic that was being held on Lake Bistineau in Webster Parish, Rosetta Days and Gwendolyn Ellis had a conversation about how best to celebrate Juneteenth in Grambling.

They came up with the idea of holding a pageant with a few other events. With only two months until June, Days and Ellis started to make plans for the First Miss Juneteenth Pageant. The committee chair was Ellis. On June 18, 1982, the pageant was held in the Grambling Recreation Center but with a lack of participation, the pageant was short lived.

In 1995, Rixie Thompson brought the event back and once again the length was short. Then in 2004, the Epsilon Alpha Zeta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. asked then mayor Martha Andrus and the Juneteenth Heritage Festival Committee to take over the job of hosting the pageant. So on June 17, 2004, the pageant was held and has continued every since.

This year is no different from any other in that many young girls have decided to follow in the path of young ladies like Phaedra Gafford (Little Miss Juneteenth, 1982), Ashley Wrightsman (Miss Junior Juneteenth, 2004) and Crystal Helton (Miss Juneteenth, 2007).