HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – To commemorate Alabama’s bicentennial along with Juneteenth, community members in Huntsville are coming together to highlight the history along Church Street during that era.
Organizers say this weekend’s Juneteenth celebration has been years in the making.
Members of Alabama’s bicentennial sub-committee said years ago Church Street was one of the few places Black people, their businesses and churches could thrive.
On Saturday, in honor of the state’s history, the community will stage a precession from two ends of Church Street and meet at Big Spring Park.
“We’ll end up at the beginning of this park and we’ll march in singing ‘take me to the water’. Which is an old negro spiritual that we still sing today during our baptisms,” explained Rodney Milton, member of the sub-committee.
Organizers say there will be an actual baptismal pool set up, a ceremony that has historical roots in Big Spring Park.
“We are doing a reenactment of the baptisms that used to happen at Big Spring Park back in the 1800s probably up until the early 1900s,” Milton added. “There is a picture floating around Huntsville from 1895 of a baptism that was held here. People would come from all over the city to be a part of this baptism. It was a historical event.”
Event organizers say this celebration is meant to educate citizens and promote unity in the rocket city.
“Getting families, and getting young people to come out to go over the history of the city because a lot of people don’t know that this area was heavily populated by African Americans during the Church Street days,” said Milton.
“Everyone pitched in to build the community,” explained Tony Smith, member of the sub-committee. “The slaves had one part and others had another, but it’s because of everybody that this community was built.”
Black history is a big part of Alabama’s history and the local organizers said they’ve made it a top priority to keep that history in circulation.
On Saturday, two processionals will begin simultaneously at 10:00 a.m. One from the St. Bartley historical marker on Williams Avenue at Church Street, and the other from St. John AME Church on Monroe and Church Streets.