York celebrating Juneteenth with exhibit and rare copy of Emancipation Proclamation


YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — The York County History Center is hosting a Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 19 to bring awareness to the now-federal holiday.

Juneteenth is recognized as the time when the news of President Abraham Lincoln freeing all enslaved persons reached the state of Texas some two-and-a-half years after he signed the original Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, officially confirming that all slaves were now free individuals.

The History Center is presenting two exhibits to highlight the challenges and achievements of African Americans in York County.

On Saturday, June 19, the day of Juneteenth, the center is opening a timeline exhibit designed by Ophelia Chambliss, Community Historian, and fine artist. This timeline exhibit features past and current research into local African American history.

Chambliss says this exhibit is extremely important to her, as it means “people are recognizing the message behind the holiday. It gives people a reason to celebrate the freedoms that came to fruition.” She enjoyed designing the piece, saying “I felt it was a service to my community to put York’s Black history in context. The exhibit will allow people to save, cherish, and archive the important information behind the holiday.”

Titled Essential Pieces: An Inclusive Timeline of York County History, the theme behind the design is “putting the essential pieces of York’s Black history in context,” Chambliss said. “I hope it changes the narratives about when these events occurred. Most people don’t remember that Barbara Walters, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Anne Frank were all born in the same year.”

A second exhibit in the center features a piece of rare history. A printing of the Emancipation Proclamation has been on display since May 7 and will continue to be displayed through July 3rd. The printing is signed by Abraham Lincoln, Secretary of State William Seward, and the President’s Private Secretary John Nicolay. It was one of only 48 printings sold at the Philadelphia Great Central Sanitary Fair in June of 1864. There is also a virtual exhibit of the Underground Railroad history in York County, which details the people and places around York County that helped make York an important step to freedom.

Chambliss will hold guided exhibit talks at 10 AM and 2 PM on Saturday. A digital version of the exhibit can be viewed on York History Center’s website. You can also register in advance for the guided talks on their website.

In addition to the exhibits, WellSpan Health will be holding a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the center on Saturday from 12-1 PM. No appointments are needed for this clinic.

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