Emancipation Celebration filled with meaning, fellowship
By Jim Turner

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

Tradition, friendship, homecoming, spirituality, great respect for the past and high hopes for the future are always part of the annual 8th of August Emancipation Celebration in Russellville. This year it is expected to be accompanied by perfect weather.

The event, which has been going on in Russellville for over a quarter of a century, celebrates the granting of freedom to all Americans, especially doing away with slavery.

“The 8th of August represents a time of celebration of the freedom bestowed upon African American due to the Emancipation Proclamation. Although we were late getting the news, knowledge of freedom is liberating no matter when you get it. Today, it is a time for people to come home from wherever they have migrated and stay connected with family and friends in Logan County. You can't beat the food, fellowship and entrepreneurship that takes place year after year, reminding us all that there is no place like home,” says Dr. Veronica Duncan Walters, a graduate of Russellville High School and the University of Kentucky who is a former university professor and is now host of “Everyday Living with Rick and Veronica” in Tampa, Fla.

This year's festivities, which are centered around the area between Hampton Park and the KP Hall, include many traditional events. They include the following:

*Basketball Tournament all weekend at Hampton Park

*Softball Tournament all weekend at Hampton Park

*Soul Food Fest, 5th and Morgan, Friday afternoon

*Russellville Blues Festival featuring Michael Gough, 6th and Morgan, Friday, 7 p.m.

* Golf Tournament at Rolling Hills, 7 a.m. Saturday

*Opening Ceremony, Hampton Park, 10 a.m Saturday

*Music concert, across from Hampton Park, 5 p.m. Saturday.

A new event will be A Taste of Culture inside and outside at Kathy's Hair Salon, which is located at the corner of Ninth and Nashville streets. It will begin at 8 a.m. Friday.

"I think that great! The 8th of August is a "Family Reunion," says Doris McCormick Keith, am RHS graduate who served three years as U.S Army officer after graduating from WKU. She also served seven years in the Army Reserves, with the rank of Captain. And now lives in Augusta, Ga. where she works for the VA Medical Center t. “The 8th of August is a journey back to your roots, where your history began.”

(See Angela McCarley's Guest Article about the importance of the 8th of August elsewhere on The LoJo.)

Other comments:

Bonnie Cunigan Jung: "1963, 3rd grade at Auburn Elementary. Finally then kids from Hill Street came to school with us. Many of my lifelong friends. I couldn't understand why then our wonderful music teacher Ms. Margaret Munday could be there but my friends couldn't. The 'race' thing really bothered me because I remember when my dad (Sam Cunigan) owned Auburn Electric, there was one cold night, a sweet very old black gentleman came to our BACKDOOR, and was in need of help because his electricity was off at his house. I heard him call my dad 'Mr. Sam' even though the gentleman was much older. I was ashamed and embarrassed and to this day I haven't forgotten it. I am 56 and my only child (son) is 14 years old. I have made it a point to raise him to see people and not color."

Carla Lawson: “ Aug. 8 was the start of true freedom in the United States. Those freedoms today that we as a government continue to battle over. Freedoms we help other countries to battle over.”

Samra Smith: "It's nice to walk three blocks from home and hear great live music provided by Russellville Blues. The best part is seeing former students and high school classmates you haven't seen in years. It's always an impromptu reunion."

Mary Lucy Franklin: “The 8th of August Celebration is just that—a celebration of Emancipation, and it's also a festival, a time for homecoming and reunion, and an opportunity to eat some good food and hear some fine music while you're visiting with old friends and making new ones. It is a 'not to be missed' occasion in Logan County."

Veronica Johnson: “As a lifelong resident of Russellville, I have always known about the 8th of August celebrations held every year. I remember that while I was in elementary and high school, many of my friends wouldn't attend school on Aug. 8, but I never knew why. Yet, as an adult, I now realize how important it is that we remember history and celebrate the fact that our country has moved past slavery.

“In the last several years, I have attended the celebration with my daughter, Ashley. It is always fun to attend the basketball and softball tournaments on Saturday, sample some of the best food around all weekend, and enjoy the blues music on Friday night. However, my favorite part of the festivities is catching up with friends who have moved away from Russellville. To me, the 8th of August is not just about the Emancipation celebration, it is reminiscent of the Logan County Tobacco Festival.”

Ashley Bland: “I always thought the 8th of August was celebrated everywhere; I didn't know it was mainly a Russellville tradition until I went off to college. The 8th is a homecoming/social gathering once a year. It's a lot of fun, filled with great games and food... The dustbowl is by far the most fun! Watching former RHS/LCHS basketball players play against the younger players is always fun. Between Logan County and Russellville high schools we have some great young men playing on our basketball teams, but they can hardly keep up with the Ogees... The Friday night the Russellville Blue Society ends their summer performances with The Michael Gough group playing which is always lots of fun. I look forward to the 8th celebration every year!”

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