15 to participate in Juneteenth event pageant

The Grambling Juneteenth Heritage Festival annual Miss Juneteenth Pageant will be held Friday, June 19 at 7 p.m. in the T.H. Harris Auditorium on the campus of Grambling State University. “Keeping the Spirit of Juneteenth Alive – 150 Years Later….Remember the Past, Embrace the Present, Hope for the Future” is the theme for the event.

The pageant is open to all area young ladies between the ages of 7 – 19.  There are three divisions: Little Miss Juneteenth, ages 7 – 10; which include Mariyah Jones, A’Nyia Moore, Silacia Overton, VaSganti Sproulls, Taylar Swinney, Kristian Warfield and Asijah Wright. Miss Teen Juneteenth contestants, ages 11 – 14 are Mar’Kaylia Buggs, Laniah Foster, Shantel Washington and La’Diamond White and Miss Juneteenth contestants, ages 15 – 19 are MyKalia Alexander, Bryia Hoskins and Bria Williams.

    Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery.  Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that all slaves were now free.  Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official January 1, 1863.

    During an Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Annual Picnic held on Lake Bistineau in Webster Parish, two persons in attendance, Mrs. Rosetta Days (deceased) and Mrs. Gwendolyn Ellis (deceased) discussed ideas of celebrating Juneteenth in Grambling.  While enjoying the picnic and wondering what the Town of Grambling could do to revive the Juneteenth celebration in Grambling, they came up with the paramount idea of holding a pageant, in addition to other activities. 

    With only two months away from June, Mrs. Days and Dr. Ellis immediately started plans for the First Miss Juneteenth Pageant.  As a result, the following persons held the first Miss Juneteenth Pageant on June 18, 1982 in the Grambling Recreation Center:  Dr. Gwendolyn Ellis (deceased), Mrs. Doris Dawson (deceased), Mrs. Rosetta Days (deceased), Mrs. Anita Auzenne (deceased), Mrs. Catherine  McNeal(deceased), Charles Young, Dr. Jimmie McJamerson (deceased) and Mr. Calvin Wilkerson (deceased).  Dr. Ellis was the Chairperson of the first pageant.  Due to a lack of participation, the pageant was short-lived. 

    Rixie Thompson revived the pageant in 1995 and again the duration was short.  In 2004, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Epsilon Alpha Zeta Chapter made a request to Mayor Martha Andrus and the Juneteenth Heritage Festival Committee to host the pageant.  On June 17, 2004 the fourth pageant was held.  

    The Juneteenth Heritage Committee, the City of Grambling, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. have high hopes of continuing the efforts borne by the First Committee in 1982.  

    We salute the “First Committee” and look forward to making the pageant a Grambling tradition.