News Release

How Saints in the Southeastern US Honored Juneteenth

In honor of Juneteenth, the United States federal holiday which marks the end of slavery, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida linked arms with community organizers to unite families.

Congregations in the Springdale, Arkansas area featured a FamilySearch booth at the Juneteenth Freedom Festival, where attendees pinned their origins on a map and shared their family stories. Many eagerly downloaded the FamilySearch Family Tree app to continue their genealogical journey.

Festival planner Anthony Ball, a member of the Arkansas Gospel Chorale, shared, “The FamilySearch booth was a meaningful addition to our Juneteenth celebration, prompting reflection on identity through family history. We look forward to having them join us again in the future.”

Latter-day Saints in the Sugar Hill area of Georgia pioneered Juneteenth FamilySearch booth events in the North America Southeast area and set the example for others to follow. This year, they participated in Juneteenth events with the Gainesville-Hall County Black History Society, Inc. and The Black Women’s Association of Sugar Hill Georgia.

In Aiken, South Carolina, members from the local congregations celebrated Juneteenth at the Center for African American History, Art and Culture. The Church had previously funded a genealogy lab at the center in 2019. Brent Ruggles, a volunteer FamilySearch consultant, shared, “Many visitors were excited to learn about and explore their family histories.”

FamilySearch volunteers in Aiken, South Carolina, bring together families at the Center for African American History, Art and Culture on June 15, 2024.2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Juneteenth celebrations in Greenville and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, also featured FamilySearch booths. Jackie Alford, communication specialist for the Greenville East South Carolina Stake, presented Gaffney City Councilwoman Rosa Webber with a framed four-generation family tree. Alford noted, “The FamilySearch booth helped numerous individuals start their ancestral research. One participant was thrilled to uncover information about his long-lost father after many years of searching. It was an honor to contribute to a celebration that honors our ancestors.”

More than 70 people signed up to receive additional training on FamilySearch at the Juneteenth Augusta Festival. FamilySearch volunteer Diane Jensen noted that the family atmosphere made it easy to talk about family history.

Juneteenth Arts & Cultural Festival in Cocoa, Florida, on June 15, 2024, features FamilySearch booth with hands on help in finding your ancestors.2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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At a similar event in Cocoa, Florida, Laurel Price and Irv Bushnell helped Leroy Darby find his grandparents’ marriage certificate and his great-grandfather’s occupational details from census records. Overwhelmed with emotion, Darby said, “This is a godsend. I’ve wanted to do this for so long. The stories passed down to me as a child, now revealed in documented form, mean everything. I can now pass this legacy to my son and beyond.”

Reflecting on these events, President Shaun Sedrick of the Springdale Arkansas Stake emphasized, “We were delighted to spotlight FamilySearch as a valuable, free resource for discovering our heritage. Whether people are just beginning or expanding their knowledge, sharing this information with our community aligns with our commitment to love one another as taught by the Savior.”

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