Celebrating resilience through historical connections to Dakota Territory for Juneteenth

Rapid City Arts Center host Joyce Jefferson’s theatrical interpretation of trailblazer Sarah “Aunt Sally” Campbell
Updated: Jun. 10, 2023 at 6:00 AM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Some refer to it as the United States’ “Second Independence Day” as it has been a long celebration among African Americans, Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery. The word “Juneteenth” is a combination of June and nineteenth as a reference to June 19, 1856, the date when 250,000 African Americans received the news they were free in Texas, more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

A century and a half later, African Americans continue to celebrate this historic moment and now a federal holiday since President Joe Biden signed it into law in June of 2021. On Saturday, June 17 beginning at 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., the Rapid City Performing Arts Center will host a “Let’s Celebrate Freedom Day” commemoration with a talent show, cultural foods, kid-friendly events, and a theatrical interpretation of Sarah Campbell by Black Hills storyteller, Joyce Jefferson. Campbell, also known as “Aunt Sally”, was the first non-Native to come to the Black Hills with the Custer Expedition in 1874.

Sarah Campbell, She Vanquished with the Vanguard of Civilization is sponsored by the Black Hills Community Theater and South Dakota Humanities Council’s Speakers Bureau which is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The African American Heritage Committee, Raider Diversity Group, and the Black Hills Community Theatre came together to bring the first Juneteenth in Rapid City since Juneteenth became an official federal holiday. Some of the important players behind the scenes include Manasseh Dyse of African American Heritage Committee and Kherdine Weber from the African American Heritage Committee and Raider Diversity Group.

The Juneteenth ceremony at the Arts Center is a free event that is open to the public.

Watch the above video for more information.