In South Carolina, locals and activists were shocked and upset when they saw a banner for an upcoming Juneteenth event showing a smiling white couple, with no black people in sight.
Banner Controversy Surrounds Juneteenth Celebration in Greenville
People in Greenville noticed new banners hanging across Main Street last week.
These banners were advertising a three-day celebration, organized by the nonprofit group Juneteenth GVL Inc. However, the happy mood changed when a banner, only featuring a white couple, started to spread quickly on social media.
Bruce Wilson, an activist with Greenville’s Fighting Injustice Together, spoke publicly to local news about his deep disappointment with the banner, saying it didn’t represent what the holiday is about.
The organizer of a Juneteenth event in South Carolina explains banner depicting white couple: “We did not want to make this exclusively Black. That is not in the spirit of unity." https://t.co/JKoH7w1C63
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) May 28, 2023
Bruce Wilson, who has been planning Juneteenth events in Greenville since 2020, knows a lot about planning these events.
He said his group was told a month ago they wouldn’t be able to use the Peace Center for planning the event, a favor that was given to another group instead.
Wilson, while clearly saying “White America” can indeed join in Juneteenth celebrations, encouraged locals in Greenville to not go to the event, strongly arguing against White America being the symbol of the holiday.
Juneteenth GVL Inc. Responds to Controversy and Apologizes
“I fully support White America taking part in our Juneteenth celebrations, but I’m really worried about the thought of White America being the main picture of this historical holiday,” Wilson said strongly.
“I’m the first to say that white America can celebrate Juneteenth, I just don’t think white America should be the face of Juneteenth,” said Greenville activist Bruce Wilson, calling for a boy… https://t.co/v1M80eH17R
— The Pug (@thepugnews) May 26, 2023
“My main worry is this misunderstanding. First, if they don’t want to remove this badly thought-out banner, I’m asking the citizens to not go to this event.”
“Secondly, I’m really encouraging everyone to share their concerns by calling the city manager, to question if this particular banner is suitable,” Wilson added, highlighting the two actions he was asking people to do because of the tricky situation.
Rueben Hays, the boss of Juneteenth GVL Inc., talked about the controversy, saying the banner was meant to create unity. He said there were nine other designs that included Asian, Black, and Hispanic residents.
Hays also said the idea came from his all-Black board, with no outside pressure from the city to make the promotion more diverse.
However, after lots of negative reactions, Juneteenth GVL Inc. apologized and made plans to take down the flags causing the problems.