GALLIPOLIS — The Emancipation Celebration Weekend returns this year to the Gallia County Junior Fairgrounds Sept. 22-23 with West Virginia State University President Dr. Anthony Jenkins serving as its keynote speaker.
According to the Emancipation Weekend Committee’s website, the Emancipation Proclamation has been celebrated and observed in Gallia County continuously since 1863. The Gallia County Emancipation Day Celebration is reported to be one of the longest continuous running celebrations of the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States.
Historically, the celebration originally was always celebrated on the 22nd of September. This coincided with President Lincoln’s historic signing of the Emancipation Proclamation which declared slaves “thenceforth and forever more free.” It was conducted in a religious atmosphere. Activities and games such as baseball, sack racing, hog calling and greasy pole climbing were included to stimulate the interest and maintain enthusiasm. Bands, famous orators, politicians, parades, dance and queen contests were also included in the celebration.
Kerr Station, Vinton “bean dinner” Park, Bush Park, Bidwell-Porter, Gallipolis City Park, Gallia County Fairgrounds and most recently Bob Evans Farms in Rio Grande have served as locations for the annual celebration. As many as 2,500 people have attended the celebration. In recent years, people from as far away as California, New York, Texas, Florida and Canada have been represented.
The 2018 theme for the Emancipation Celebration is “Our future is to be forever free.”
Anthony L. Jenkins, Ph.D., West Virginia State University’s 11th President effective July 1, 2016, is an established higher education leader committed to advocating for students and creating opportunity to higher education for all students, especially culturally under-represented groups, say supporters.
Born in Washington D.C., and raised between the nation’s capital and North Carolina, Jenkins and has been described as a vocal proponent for education and public policy issues. Supporters say he has fostered meaningful dialogue within the national higher education community. His research, speeches and publications focus on crisis management, enrollment and retention, diversity, African-American male initiatives, first-generation college student success, state funding for higher education, mentoring and high-risk college campus behavior such as alcohol consumption and sexual misconduct. Colleagues say throughout his career, he has enhanced the quality of the university experience for students, developed and successfully implemented comprehensive retention and enrollment plans leading to greater access, opportunity and higher graduation rates; thereby enabling more individuals to improve their quality of life by earning a college education.
Jenkins began his path to West Virginia State University as a United States Army veteran and first-generation college graduate. Jenkins earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Virginia Tech University, a Master of Science degree from North Carolina Central University, and a Bachelor’s of Applied Science degree from Fayetteville State University.
Prior to leading the WVSU family, Jenkins served as Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and, most recently, as the Senior Associate Vice President for the University of Central Florida – the nation’s second largest university. His career includes serving at Jackson State University, thereafter joining Virginia Tech’s Housing and Residence Life and later the Office of the Dean of Students. He remained at Virginia Tech until becoming the Assistant Dean of Students at Northeastern Illinois University. He later served as the Associate Dean of Students at the University of North Carolina Wilmington; and was recruited to serve as the Dean of Students at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
Jenkins is a life-member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. He is an active member of several higher education organizations, including: the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA); the American College Personnel Association (ACPA); the State University System of Florida Associate Vice President Council; the National Association of Student Affairs Professionals (NASAP); the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU); and the Association of Student Conduct Administration (ASCA). In 2014, he served as a faculty member for the NASPA Region II Mid Manager Institute. A supporter of quality higher education, he has served as a site evaluator for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). He has been inducted into several of the most prestigious academic honor, business and leadership societies in the nation: Alpha Kappa Psi; Phi Kappa Phi; Sigma Alpha Pi; Alpha Sigma Lambda; Omicron Delta Kappa; Alpha Phi Sigma; and Order of Omega.
Jenkins is married to Toinette Jenkins and they have three daughters.