Organization releases statement after Juneteenth event banner spurs controversy

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 10:36 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - An event banner in downtown Greenville is sparking some controversy. The banner, created by a non-profit organization hosting a Juneteenth event, reads, “an upstate celebration of freedom, unity and love,” showing an image of a white man and woman.

This controversy started with one picture of the banner circulating on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Since Tuesday, the photo has spread with hundreds of posts, comments and many more questions.

“I was appalled, said Greenville activist Bruce Wilson from Fighting Injustice Together. “I was saddened, I was angry.”

Wilson has hosted Juneteenth events in Greenville since 2020. Although he’s not hosting events this year, he said everyone should celebrate the holiday, as it marks the day a Union general informed the last enslaved Black Americans they were free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

“We have to remember what Juneteenth is about,” Wilson said. “It’s about freedom. It’s about the freedom of slaves.”

He says the banner is a misrepresentation.

“I’m the first to say that White America can celebrate Juneteenth, I just don’t think White America should be the face of Juneteenth. And I think that’s where the disconnect is,” he said.

Wilson’s not the only one. Hundreds of people took their frustrations to social media. The banner is promoting Juneteenth GVL, a non-profit hosting a series of events, including a mega fest on June 17th.

The banner is one of 50 currenty downtown. The other banners depict different ethnicities, including Black, White and Hispanic. They didn’t want to go on camera with us, but organizers said their vision is to promote diversity and inclusion. Since this is a privately organized event, not sponsored by the city of Greenville, when we asked for comment, city officials said, “the city is not organizing or managing the event.”

“One, I’m asking this event be boycotted if they do not feel the need to remove this banner. Secondly, I’m asking everyone to call the city manager and voice your concerns about this particular banner,” said Wilson.

The organizers also say they stand by their vision and decisions for the event. They released the following statement on social media Thursday.

MORE: Juneteenth events happening in the Upstate, Western NC