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Welcome to the point of no return 

As our country has endured turmoil, trials, tribulation and triumphs, we have come to a point of no return. We have a grand opportunity to begin the healing and supporting process of what we know America to be. 

May 20 marked the 156th anniversary of the ending of slavery in Florida. The West Volusia Branch NAACP hosted a virtual history walk with a panel of educators and social-justice experts, including Stetson University professor Dr. Patrick Coggins, local historian Mike Brown, Bethune- Cookman University Archival Coordinator Brandon Nightingale, and former state Rep. and Volusia County Council Member Joyce Cusack. 

West Volusia Branch NAACP President Sean King gave an opening message of hope. 

Volusia County Council Member Barb Girtman shared her views on the importance of healing and presented a proclamation on behalf of Volusia County. 

“If you are not at the table, you are on the menu,” shared Cusack, when asked about the next steps for working toward economic growth for people of color. 

Other topics included Black Wall Street, African American history curriculum, the history of the emancipation of enslaved people, the importance of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), community advocacy and more. 

On May 11, the Orange City Council presented a proclamation that was shared with members of the West Volusia Branch NAACP, Sisters Build Network for Girls Inc. and Man Up Mentoring. 

The DeLand and Deltona city commissions also gave special recognition to the historic anniversary. 

The City of DeLand posted this on its website: “And while it represents a historic point in the civil-rights movement, there is more work to be done. The city is committed to continuing that work by improving relationships and racial equity within our community.” 

This speaks volumes to the intent and vested interest of our community working toward social justice and racial equity. 

The proclamation reads as follows: 

Whereas, May 20 marks the anniversary of Emancipation Day in the State of Florida, the date on which slavery became illegal in the state; and 

Whereas, Union Brig. Gen. Edward McCook formally announced President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation from the steps of the Knott House in Tallahassee on May 20, 1865; and 

Whereas, the City of DeLand joins in the recognition of Emancipation Day with several community organizations, including Sisters Build Network for Girls Inc., Man Up Mentoring and the West Volusia Branch of the NAACP; and 

Whereas, Communities continue to heal through local and nationwide events, which create historical relevance regarding the emancipation of slaves for generations to come; and 

Whereas, the City of DeLand acknowledges that love is universal and we are stronger together; and 

Whereas, as a community we will continue to build relationships and bonds to conquer racism, racial inequities and all other types of prejudices in our community. 

“Now, therefore, I, Robert F. Apgar, Mayor of the City of DeLand, do hereby proclaim, May 20, 2021 as: 

Anniversary of Emancipation Day in the City of DeLand, and urge all citizens of DeLand to observe this day in recognition of the Anniversary of Emancipation Day. 

Done and proclaimed this 20th day of May 2021.” 

Want more ways to celebrate unity in our community? 

Join us for the Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 19, at Earl Brown Park in DeLand, with entertainment, vendors and food trucks. And you’re encouraged to attend a Juneteenth vendors market Sunday, June 20, in Artisan Alley. 

Both events will start at 10 a.m. and are sponsored by Sisters Build Network for Girls Inc., Man Up Mentoring, Kinks Coils and Waves, CareerSource, VyStar, Launch and the City of DeLand. 

Contact sistersbuild@primrosecameron.com for more information. 

— Cameron, a longtime educator, lives in Orange City. Send email to cameronchronicleslive@gmail.com. 

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