More than 1,100 visitors came through the gates of Stratford Hall in the early afternoon hours of July 4, during its annual Lee’s and Independence Family Fun Festival. The annual Independence Day celebration featured free admission for all to the grounds of the birthplace of Robert E. Lee.
With activities around the plantation from local artist Phil McKenney to an ATV train for the children, the hot sunny day had something for everyone. Not only were the grounds open, but so was the Great House which many people took a tour of throughout the day.
One of the many booths spread across the lawn was ‘Juneteenth,’ which taught the history of June 19, and what it means to the descendants of slaves in America. Many historical sites in America, until recent years, had glossed over the history of slavery as a huge part of the country.
In recent years, Stratford Hall has not only brought the history of slaves on the plantation, of which there were many, to the forefront, but also hosted a roundtable on the documentary film ‘American Denial’ and the work of Gunnar. On August 19, they will host Understanding American Denial: Workshop and Seminar from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
According to the Juneteenth website, “Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19, that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.”