ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - Most people spent last night celebrating the new year. Some continued that celebration into Monday.
Roanoke's chapter of the NAACP hosted its Annual Jubilee Day celebration Monday at the Loudon Ave Christian Church with a look to the future of the organization and community.
Roanoke's branch of the NAACP kicked off 2018 with a jubilee celebration - timed with the anniversary of Emancipation Day. Community members gathered in the church to commemorate the occasion - reciting the Emancipation Day Litany.
"The Emancipation Proclamation freed the African Slaves in the United States on New Year's Day in 1863," read Tiana Keeping, Treasurer of Roanoke's NAACP Youth Council. "But actual freedom did not come until a June day two and a half years later."
The day's celebration featured prominent community members including Mayor Sherman Lea, as well as school board and city council members.
But much attention was focused on the NAACP's youth council- which largely organized the event.
William Fleming graduate and Old Dominion University student, Blake Barnes, delivered the day's message. He emphasized support of the community.
"But we as African Americans must stay involved in our communities. give back to our people, invest in our black owned businesses and know that if we can help each other, we can come together as one," Barnes told the crown.
Barnes also noted recent events, including the Charlottesville protests, and the protests of professional football players - to encourage his peers to remain resilient in their work.
"We need to go back and educate ourselves on our history, our culture and our traditions," he said, "and many of the ways that we can bridge this generational gap, is by bringing all generations of African Americans together."
Roanoke's NAACP president says she hopes kicking off the new year with the jubilee will spark interest and energy in the community.
"We hope that they would hear something that would inspire people to go out and help one another and make the community better." said President Brenda Hale. "That's our soul purpose is to make the community better."