published Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Juneteenth to honor fathers in the Chattanooga area

Cheryl Norris Sanders speaks during a Juneteenth celebration.
Cheryl Norris Sanders speaks during a Juneteenth celebration.
Photo by Angela Lewis.

• What: Juneteenth celebration

• When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., June 29

• Where: Eastdale Village Community United Methodist Church, 1403 Tunnel Blvd.

• Admission: Free

Not all men leave their families, and those who stay should be celebrated, Charlotte S. Willams says.

"We're honoring men who have supported their families. We want to show we have some in our community who have remained in our homes," Williams said.

Williams and Cheryl Norris Sanders are hosting the annual Juneteenth celebration, and this year's focus is fathers.

This is the third year Williams and Sanders have partnered with the Mary Walker Foundation and the Chattanooga News Chronicle to sponsor the event. WNOO-AM also is a sponsor.

The organizers are honoring men like the late Rev. Stanley Reuben Williams, Williams' father, who succumbed to diabetes and kidney failure May 17.

"My father wasn't perfect," she said. "He made a lot of bad choices. But the beauty of it all is that he did not allow those choices to define him. He had courage to try again."

Her father was pastor of Eastdale Village Community United Methodist Church and was married to her mother for 45 years.

"God used not-perfect people throughout the Bible. Through God's grace and by their faith they are examples," Williams said.

Sanders will talk about men who not only raised their own families but extended themselves to care for the community.

Organizers also will host an educational hour at the celebration when Eundra Porter, with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, will discuss HIV and AIDS prevention. There also will be a parent-led discussion about how to help children overcome academic struggles and be more successful in school and how to improve failing schools in the inner city.

The Juneteenth celebration commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and the enslaved were now free, according to the website

The news came to Texas two and a half years after Jan. 1, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamations.

According to the website, Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.

"Juneteenth is Independence Day for African Americans," said Sanders.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at or call 423-757-6431.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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