South Carolina Town Uses White Models to Promote Juneteenth Celebration

'Juneteenth is being gentrified'

FOX Carolina Screenshot

The organizers of a South Carolina city's Juneteenth event have apologized after advertising the celebration with a banner featuring white people. Created by the nonprofit organization Juneteenth GVL Inc., the banner advertises a three-day event meant to celebrate Black history.

According to NBC News outlet WYFF4, some residents in Greenville were shocked to see a poster featuring two white models pitching a Juneteenth event.  “An upstate celebration of freedom, unity & love,” the banner read.

According to Fox Carolina, the banner is one of 50 hung around downtown Greenville. Other banners in the series depict Black and Hispanic models.

Several activists and social media users shared their opinions after seeing the banner with many calling for the banners to be taken down.

“I was appalled, I was saddened, I was angry,” Bruce Wilson, an activist with Greenville’s Fighting Injustice Together, told Fox Carolina.

Wilson added that the banner misrepresented what the holiday was about.

“We have to remember what Juneteenth is about, it’s about freedom, it’s about the freedom of slaves,” he said. “I just don’t think white America should be the face of Juneteenth, and I think that’s where the disconnect is.”

“Juneteenth is being gentrified,” another user tweeted.

But while many shared their criticisms, some noted that the event banner helps make the event more inclusive and welcoming.

“Juneteenth is a Nationally recognized holiday. It is just not meant for us!, brown, white, whomever should be able to reflect and recommit oneself to areas of diversity and inclusion on June 19 (and beyond),” Greenville resident Gina Glosson-Robinson wrote on Facebook.

“We (African Americans) have fought so hard to be recognized and included in mainstream America...however when it finally does happen, we're so engaged in ‘Fight’ mode we don't know how to respond/celebrate.”

According to its website, with a goal to “unite all Americans to celebrate” with commonalities, Juneteenth GVL was co-founded in by three Black men and has an all-Black board and team. Their first Greenville’s annual Juneteenth event was hosted last year.

“Juneteenth GVL would like to offer an apology to the community for the presence of non-black faces being represented on two flags representing Juneteenth,” co-founder Rueben Hays posted on the organization’s Twitter and Facebook accounts Thursday. “We acknowledge this mistake having been made and will correct the error quickly."

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