Three youth representing the Tampa Bay Area's major cities were awarded the Juneteenth Youth Award for Excellence in Human Rights Achievement June 18 at the first annual United for Human Rights Juneteenth Celebration and Awards Banquet at the Fort Harrison Auditorium in Clearwater, Florida. Hosted by the Church of Scientology, more than 300 guests attended to acknowledge the stellar work of these awardees:
- Alexis Sealey of Tampa for her work with Project Link and disadvantaged families;
- Jabril Muhammad who spent over 1,000 hours throughout the year helping children in St. Petersburg;
- Dyimond Johnson, well-known Clearwater-based coach and mentor.
Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. United for Human Rights President GraciaBennish began the program by presenting the history of the celebration.
According to the Junteenth.com website, it was on June 19, three months after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee in April of 1865, that Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and all slaves were now free. The celebration of June 19th was coined "Juneteenth."
The event was marked by proclamations, letters and tributes in honor of the occasion by the Pinellas County Commissioners, Florida State Representatives Dwight Dudley, Chris Latvala and Edwin Narain, and Florida State Senator Dwight Bullard.
Guest Speaker Pastor Fred Hinton of Calvary Worship Center in Largo spoke of empowerment as the true meaning of Juneteenth. He encouraged all attending to honor the spirit of the day with renewed commitment to ensure human rights for all.
The Church of Scientology supports United for Human Rights and its sister organization for young people, Youth for Human Rights International. Scientologists on six continents engage in collaborative efforts with government agencies and nongovernmental organizations to bring about broad-scale awareness and implementation of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the world’s premier human rights document.