Following backlash over its choice of imagery, Juneteenth GVL Mega Fest has apologized for displaying a banner featuring a smiling white couple promoting their Juneteenth event on Greenville, South Carolina's Main Street. This banner was one among ten, all depicting residents of various racial backgrounds as part of a broad representation of the community.
TikToker Tashay shared a video where she points at the banner in question, saying in dismay, "Because, why the fuck would they ever?!"
Juneteenth, which was made a federal holiday in 2021, commemorates the freeing of enslaved Black Americans after the Civil War.
Now, the festival's founder, Reuben Hays, said that including the white couple was on purpose. His goal was to show that the event is for everyone, and not just one group. But following the backlash, Hays came forward and admitted they might have goofed up in their attempt to unite everyone, and in the process, they didn't quite honor the depth of Black culture and the significance of Juneteenth.
…We acknowledge this mistake having been made and will correct the error quickly. This error was an attempt at uniting all of Greenville and thereby a slight oversight on one individual's part that prevented us from fully embracing the rich potential and celebrating the depth of the black culture through the message and meaning of Juneteenth, and for that, we apologize to you the entire community.
To foster solidarity and inclusivity, we will continue to work to make all communities better. We take full responsibility for this misstep in this regard, and pledge to rectify the situation promptly and responsibly. Again, the flags in question will be removed as soon as possible…
This is not the only drama stemming from the event. Bruce Wilson, a community activist who used to run the event, accuses the current organizers of "whitewashing" the celebration and has threatened them with a lawsuit if they don't call the event off by May 31.