On Friday, May 29, South Georgia’s Rue’Nette Melton from Tifton talked to the Macon Examiner about her annual event which commemorates Juneteenth and honors her parents — Mr. and Mrs. Daughtry Benjamin. Melton’s father — Daughtry Benjamin (Doc, D.B.) Melton Sr. –was the first African-American to run for any public office in Tift County after the Reconstruction period in 1966. Ms. Melton has continued the work of public service via her company –Dee and Doc Melton Sr. Cultural Visions– which helps to educate the community about black history along with providing help for people in need in the Tifton community.
Melton helped to establish the “Dee and Doc Melton Senior Black Cultural Center” along with James “Bob” Washington. It’s located at 1006 Doc Melton Sr. Drive in Tifton.
One example of the good work that the Dee and Doc Melton Senior Cultural Visions did had happened during the Christmas holidays in regard to helping the homeless. She and other volunteers had set up outside the Dollar Tree on Dawson Road for two weeks, collecting toiletries, hats, and socks via donations and was delivering these goods to the homeless.
Melton told Albany’s WALB-TV the following: “It has been wonderful. People have been very generous to come to donate. They have been empathetic, as well as sympathetic regarding our homeless mission here.”
The annual Juneteenth Festival is scheduled for Saturday, June 20 at Fulwood Park in Tifton, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Melton has been able to schedule a variety of inspirational speakers who will be featured at the June 20 event.
One of the speakers will be Dawson, Georgia’s mayor, Christopher Wright. Wright became one of the youngest mayors ever elected in Georgia, but he had to deal with adversity after being shot in October 2013. Wright recovered and is thriving. When Wright first became mayor in 2012, he had said the following:
“I wanted Christian to have a positive male role model in his life, someone who got up in the morning, put on a suit and went to work,” Wright said. “That’s the way my family raised me, with manners and morals, and that’s something that drove me.”
Wright says he wants to make a difference, but there is a reality that exists in which some people in local government want to continue with the status quo and do whatever it takes to stay in office without being held accountable by the people of Dawson which has a seventy-eight percent African-American population.
Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day, Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day, is a holiday in the United States that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in June 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, and is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in most states.
The holiday is observed primarily in local celebrations. Traditions include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, and readings by noted African-American writers such as Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou.Celebrations may include parades, rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties, historical reenactments, or Miss Juneteenth contests.