HANCEVILLE, Ala. (WBRC) - A Juneteenth Celebration at Veterans Memorial Park in Hanceville in Cullman Co. had everything a proper Juneteenth celebration should have, great food, music and community but there was a key element missing.
“We are notorious for our history as a “sundown town” unfortunately,” Resident Amy Leonard said.
A “sundown town” is a place where historically Black people were not allowed to live or exist, especially after dark.
Amy Leonard was born and raised about 20 minutes north of Hanceville in Cullman, a small town entrenched in German heritage. With a population of nearly 16,000 the majority of people who live in Cullman are White.
Cullman Co has a population of about 84,000 and according to 2018 census estimates, 1.3% of the population identifies as Black.
That is why Leonard said it was important for her family to attend the county’s first Juneteenth celebration organized by The Committee For A Better Cullman. The event was packed with fellowship, discussions, food and music.
“Very grateful we are progressing slowly but surely into the 21st Century,” said Leonard.
“I wanted to reach out to these people and I wanted to say we are here to celebrate you. We’re here to hear your voices. We’re here to amplify your voices. We want to do whatever we can do to make Cullman county a better place for you,” said A.C. Poteete with Committee For A Better Cullman.
However, not all who live there agreed with organizer Poteete out of Blount County. The event attracted a group who waved state and “blue line” flags over a white picket fence that borders the park. The group kept their distance but looked on the entire event.
No adults of color attended the event. Some say the sheer thought there could be trouble likely kept them away.
“If we don’t do it now, It’s never going to happen. If we don’t have a good turnout from the Black community that’s understandable but we are going to show them it’s safe, it’s all good,” Poteete said.
Hanceville Police were on site to keep the peace as police told us that they got calls from neighbors not happy the event was taking place.
We have not gotten any reports of any disturbances.
Poteete said they plan to host more inclusive events in the future.