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West Gadsden Historical Society recalls legendary Gunn family Emancipation Day celebrations

LaTrenda Gainous (seated), granddaughter of the late Samuel Bernard “S.B.” Gunn, looks at old photos compiled by the West Gadsden Historical Society from her grandfather’s legendary Emancipation Day Celebration in the St. Mary’s community, near Greensboro. The Gunn family hosted the celebration every May 20 – Emancipation Day in Florida – from the late 1940s to the late 2000s. By the dawn of the new millennium, the Gunn gathering was drawing throngs of more than 1,000 and had garnered national attention. The New York Times even published a feature on the annual bash. Sadly, the Gunns ceased the tradition a few years ago, as crowds grew too large to safely manage. But the Gunn legacy continues to echo in the communities of Gadsden County every May 20 in smaller celebrations like this one hosted by the West Gadsden Historical Society. The historical society dedicated their inaugural Emancipation Day event to the memory of S.B. Gunn and the annual tradition he started all those years ago. L-R, Linda Smith, LaTrenda Gainous, Leroy McMillian, Lynne Poucher. PHOTO BY BRIAN DEKLE