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Voice of The Southern: Thumbs up to Juneteenth, thumbs down to cancellations
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Voice of The Southern

Voice of The Southern: Thumbs up to Juneteenth, thumbs down to cancellations

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Thumbs up to the renewed interest this year in Juneteenth. Juneteenth, as Molly Parker wrote for Thursday's edition, commemorates June 19, 1865. On that day, 155 years ago, Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the now-famous Order No. 3. It read, in part, that “in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” Freedmen were required to “remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages” and told they were “not allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.” Juneteenth is a bittersweet holiday. The message informing those Galveston staves of their freedom reached them two years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth celebrates freedom — delayed. “What we’re celebrating is we waited and waited and waited and what we’d finally been praying for, and asking for happened — and two years later, we found out about it,” Father Joseph Brown said. There are several Juneteenth events planned around the region on Friday and Saturday. Nancy Maxwell, who helped organize a Friday Juneteenth event in Carbondale, said she has noticed renewed interest in the holiday this year. "... Now that the blinders are coming off of people of all races, Juneteenth seems to be a very important day,” Maxwell said.

Thumbs down to the cancellation of the Du Quoin State Fair, as well as the fact that the Grand American will not take place in Sparta at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex because of public health concerns related to COVID-19. Both announcements were made in the past week, and both announcements should not have been surprising. But it’s still disheartening for Southern Illinois, and, as State Rep. Terri Bryant put it, a “kick in the gut.” Both communities — Du Quoin and Sparta — as well as surrounding entities, are going to lose a lot of money that comes in through these events. It just goes to prove that as we get more businesses to open, go out and spend your money with local businesses. They’re the ones that are going to need our help the most. Just support local businesses.

Thumbs up to the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Alliance​, which is attempting to unite the state's unique wine industry by declaring rose the official wine of Illinois. Correspondent Brian Munoz had the opportunity to try several Illinois roses -- many of which were from Shawnee Hill Wine Trail members -- in a virtual wine tasting earlier this month. We know our local vintners were impacted by pandemic closures, and we're glad to see the IGGVA advocating for them in a creative way while large gatherings are still discouraged. Cheers!

Thumbs up to the track that the state is on as far as COVID-19 goes. On Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker assured the public that all four of the state’s medical regions are on pace to move into Phase 4 of his Restore Illinois reopening plan on June 26, which is next week. In that phase, restaurants and bars could open for indoor dining at fractional capacity as long as they follow state guidelines, and gatherings up to 50 people would be allowed. That’s welcomed news for sure for all Illinoisans. More good news is that numbers across the state have remained relatively flat. For the past week, there have been between 473 and 673 new cases reported each day. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity rate from June 11-17 is 3%, also a positive number.

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