Chandra Frederick

Lakeland’s 28th annual Juneteenth observance drew around 200 people to Munn Park Saturday afternoon to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States 155 years ago.

The following video covers nearly an hour and a half of the two-hour ceremony.

Eleven individuals and couples were recognized for contributions to the community and were given keys to the city by Mayor Bill Mutz. They included:

  • Reginald Ardis, president of the Lakeland Branch of the NAACP
  • Tanya Matthews Bell, former president of Bethune Cookman University Polk County Alumni Chapter
  • Beverly Boatright, president of the Washington Park/Rochelle Schools Association Inc.
  • Morris Chestang, president of the Gladys Leggett Neighborhood Association
  • Doris Hicks, president of the Florida A&M University Polk County Alumni Chapter
  • Eddie Lake and Paula Lake, pastors at New Bethel AME Church
  • Annie B. Phyall, retired educator
  • Lena S. Pickett, retired business owner
  • Larry Rankin and Trudy Rankin, local humanitarians
  • John Ruffin, president of Concerned Citizens of Polk County
  • Leah West, outreach representative and immigration specialist for U.S. Rep. Darren Soto

Photos by Joni Bing
Click on any photo to view larger images

In addition to Mutz, elected officials attending included City Commissioner Stephanie Madden and Polk School Board member Billy Townsend.

Candidates for public who attended and the offices they seek included Jan Barrow, Florida House, District 40; Bob Doyel, Polk County Commission, District 3; and Adam Hattersley, U.S. House, Florida District 15. All are Democrats.

Alzo J. Reddick Sr., who introduced the legislation recognizing Juneteenth in Florida when he was a member of the state House of Representatives, gave a rousing history of the holiday. “Juneteenth may be new for President Trump, but it sure isn’t new for us, we have been fighting for this ever since we have been here,” he declared.

Masters of ceremony were Rick Maxey, Jackye Maxey and Taylore Maxey, and the Florida Buffalo Soldiers performed a flag ceremony. Performers included the Kuumba Dancers from Tampa, St. Luke’s Ministries Praise Mime Team and Brother Charles Groover Puppet Ministry from Orlando.

The event was coordinated by Doris Moore Bailey, who founded Lakeland’s Juneteenth observance 28 years ago.

More coverage: The Ledger

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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