Eastern Kentucky Social Club hosts first Juneteenth event in Harlan County

WYMT Weekend Edition News at 11 p.m.
Published: Jun. 19, 2022 at 9:11 PM EDT
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HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - June 19th is a significant day for those of the Eastern Kentucky Social Club (EKSC) in Lynch.

“A lot of people didn’t know that this is the day of freedom,” said Maye Melton, Recording Secretary for the Eastern Kentucky Social Club.

To honor this day, those with EKSC hosted their first Juneteenth celebration outside of the EKSC Lynch Chapter building on Sunday.

“It was just very important for us to honor the holiday and to do something here in Eastern Kentucky for the whole tri-city area because we’ve invited everyone to come and join in with us,” said Andrea Massey, President of the Eastern Kentucky Social Club TN Chapter.

Founded in 1969, the Eastern Kentucky Social Club served as an organization for black Americans with ties to the coalmines of Harlan County to reunite with family and friends.

“We are still doing things; we are still here. We can’t do it as big as they do it in the cities, but we can make a difference. We wanted to make a difference and we wanted to be the first to do it,” said Massey.

With chapters spanning across the nation, the Lynch EKSC chapter wanted to not only host this event to honor the meaning of Juneteenth, but to continue the organization’s growth right here in the mountains.

“It’s gratifying and fun, you know, to see the young people, at least, to try to take a start to keep it going on.” said Gean Austin, the oldest living member of the Eastern Kentucky Social Club.

Through education, great food and a love of their community, the members of the EKSC Lynch Chapter hope to continue their mission and continue this tradition of honoring Juneteenth for many years to come.

“You can always think that if you’re in Eastern Kentucky, that you’re in Eastern Kentucky, that you’re left out of the things,” added Massey. “I think that it was very important for me to play the role to help the Eastern Kentucky Social Club bring this forth that we’re here, we want to be well-represented and well-known.”

Massey, who was also one of the event’s coordinators, said she hopes to gain even more community involvement for next year’s event.

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