Celebrating Juneteenth at Germantown Cricket Club
“Do you see that young man out there?” Joseph James stood on a porch at Germantown Cricket Club (GCC), overlooking the grass courts filled with people of all ages and backgrounds.
It was GCC’s first-ever Juneteenth Black Lives celebration — which took place June 19th and welcomed individuals from all over the Philadelphia community to celebrate the lives and culture of the African American community.
“That's what I want to see more of. I want to see more people from different cultures and backgrounds in mainline grass clubs.”
James, who was the first African American member at GCC, was taking it all in. He was an honored guest of GCC during this event, where he was recognized for the historic day he joined the club in 1979. The club presented him with a lifetime membership.
Kids played tennis in a community youth clinic on the normally private grass courts, and individuals and organizations from the community participated in the event as well. Individuals also heard James speak about his life and the progress of African American life in the U.S.
Born in Montclair, N.J. and currently residing in Columbia, S.C. James spoke about “planting seeds'' for change in whatever community he is in. He spoke about this concept being something he emphasizes daily in his work as an economical development professional, all while tying that back to inclusion and cohesion for African Americans in society.
James said becoming a lifetime member at the club is an honor, but also said he is not going to stop promoting change and bringing people together.
As James walked around the grounds, spoke to old friends and met new individuals, it was clear what the day meant to him. It was almost as if the seed he planted in 1979 had grown — or at least was growing.
The celebration of Juneteenth began in 1865. Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the emancipation of African-American slaves and is often observed for celebrating African-American culture.