Larry Little delivers powerful message during Juneteenth Freedom Ceremony

Photo by Alphonso Abbott Jr. Young performers at the Juneteenth Festival hosted by Triad Cultural Arts, Inc. on Saturday, June 19. Triad Cultural Arts, Inc. has hosted the local Juneteenth celebratoin for the past 17 years.

Larry Little delivers powerful message during Juneteenth Freedom Ceremony
June 23
14:17 2021

Juneteenth commemorates the day those enslaved in Galveston, Texas, the last geographic area in the United States to receive word of their freedom on June 19, 1865. About a month earlier, on Sunday, May 21, 1865, those enslaved in Salem (now Winston-Salem), found out about their freedom when a Union Cavalry chaplain read the orders at the African Moravian Church (now St. Philips Moravian Church). General Order #32 proclaimed that “All persons held as slaves are free.” In recognition of Juneteenth, for the past 17 years Triad Cultural Arts, Inc., has hosted a festival and this year the celebration began with a ceremony in the same space African descendants occupied that Sunday morning in 1865. 

The opening ceremony dubbed “Freedom Ceremony” featured several speakers and was headlined by local legend Dr. Larry Little, co-founder of the Winston-Salem Chapter of the Black Panther Party, the first chapter of the Black Panther Party to be established in the South.

Little, who is an attorney and professor at Winston-Salem State University, said we have come a long way, but there is still work to be done and history has taught us that the journey won’t be easy. He said when we look back at the history of Black people in this country’s history, at every juncture of the fight for freedom and progress, there has been backlash. 

“After the 13th Amendment was passed, what did the Southern states do? They enacted Black Codes making it a criminal act to do plain, simple things,” Little continued. “The14th Amendment that supposedly makes us citizens of this country if we’re born here … they come up with Jim Crow laws. We get the 15th Amendment that gives Black males the right to vote and they come up with gerrymandering, literacy tests, poll taxes. Every step when we make progress, there is backlash.” 

To further his point, Little went on to discuss the backlash from the civil rights movement in the form of President Richard Nixon and the response of Donald Trump to the election of the first Black president in 2008. 

Despite the continued backlash and reverberations throughout history, Little said for those who believe in change, we have to keep pushing. “As Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions used to say, we have to keep on pushing,” Little said.

He said although Trump is no longer in the White House, the fight against “Trumpism” continues. 

“We have withstood four years of Trump, but we have not defeated Trumpsim. He’s not in the White House, but his followers are in the state legislatures throughout this country and they’re passing in droves at breakneck speed voter suppression laws, laws designed to frustrate us in our efforts to use the ballots,” Little continued. “Finally, I say this: Fredrick Douglass was asked, how do you make progress? And he said, you have to fight for it. He said Black people don’t get all they fight for but we must fight for all that we get in this country.

“…So brothers and sisters we are not where we used to be. We’re not where we want to be, but Lord knows we’re going to get there. We’re going to get there but we must continue the struggle.”  

Before wrapping up his address, Little said if there is no struggle, there will be no progress. He also encouraged older generations to get behind young people who are leading the push for freedom and justice. “We gotta organize, we gotta continue to agitate, we gotta keep on pushing. If there is no struggle, there will be no progress. I believe in the youth…let’s unleash the power and the thinking of these young people to solve today’s problems.” 

During the Freedom Ceremony Mayor Pro Tem. Denise “DD” Adams received the Keeper of the Culture Award for her dedicated service to the citizens of the North Ward and the city of Winston-Salem. Other speakers at the opening ceremony were Mayor Allen Joines, Forsyth County Commissioner Fleming El-Amin, Elder Tembila Covington, president of the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity, and Dr. Melva Sampson. 

The Juneteenth Freedom Ceremony can be watched by visiting “Triad Cultural Arts” on Facebook. For more information visit and click on the “Juneteenth” link. 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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