Myrtle Beach residents celebrate Juneteenth at Charlie’s Place

Updated: Jun. 20, 2021 at 9:00 AM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - As the country celebrates Juneteenth as a national holiday, there was probably no better place to celebrate than at one historic building in Myrtle Beach.

President Joe Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth the United States’ newest federal holiday late last week.

The day commemorates the end of slavery in the United States when Union soldiers delivered the news of freedom to slaves in Texas in 1865.

Charlie’s Place is a spot with a rich Black history that has been preserved and continues to flourish.

Residents and visitors alike came out to the iconic building to celebrate.

“The holiday is a step but we’ve been waiting and been working and we will continue to do so,” said Cookie Goings, Director of Neighborhood Services for the City of Myrtle Beach. “But until there’s equality and justice for all, we still have to continue the work.”

Ella Thomas has lived on Carver Street for many decades, across the street from Charlie’s Place.

She says she’s seen iconic singers and bands come through the area for decades.

“Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson and many more.”

Charlie’s Place began as a popular African American nightclub and small hotel owned by Charlie Fitzgerald and his wife, Sarah, from the late 1930′s to the early 1960′s.

It also became a safe haven, a place for the Black community to stay safe while traveling to the south when the roads were not safe.

“We’ve been treated a little bit better when we were before, that’s the big thing,” Thomas said. “Back then, people just used to take advantage of people of color.”

She also said seeing Charlie’s Place light up again was a Juneteenth victory in itself.

“I feel very good about that because I was here to see it all and right now nobody needs to tell me I’ve seen it myself,” said Thomas.

With the celebration and excitement around the new holiday, Goings says the path to true change starts from within.

“All people all walks of life regardless of anything, race is important but is not the most important,” she said. “[What is important] is a willing heart, willing mind, a willing spirit for people to come together.”

Organizers said that Juneteenth is a step forward for justice and equality and there are many more changes that need to be done.

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