Greenville dedicates public art piece on Juneteenth

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – The city of Greenville gathered at the Town Common on Juneteenth for the Town Common Art Shelter, a public art piece and a trolley stop.

The porch swing signifies the porch of the historically black homes on First Street until the urban renewal in the late 1960s, showing the connectivity in time and the community on Juneteenth.

“Come on in because it’s not too far, come on in, come as you are, I hear the bells of sycamore hills,” Robert Kimber, the resident of the historical house featured on the Town Common Art Shelter, shared a part of his poem.

To Kimber, Greenville’s First Street holds a special place in his heart. It’s where he and several other black residents lived in the 1960s.

He describes it as a holy place, where he always comes back to and writes songs and poems about it.

Kimber’s sister Terry Claiborne says there is a reason why their childhood home was so special.

“Some may have seen us as being poor but in reality, we were not poor because of the close-knitness and the love that was within this neighborhood,” Claiborne said.

The city of Greenville came together for the newest public art and a stop along the Emerald Loop.

The trolley stop is one of the three in Greenville, and it is next to the African American cultural trail marker to signify the growing inclusivity and diversity of Greenville.

Since the residents had to relocate due to the urban renewal of the city in the late 1960s, Greenville has come a long way and the town’ common art shelter symbolizes that.

“Now in the present our community coming together, it’s so amazing to come to town common and see the playground and all the different parts of our community members here and looking into the future, which this imagery speaks to about the growth and connection,” Holly Garriott, the founder from EMERGE art gallery.

Artist Rakiah Jackson says the inspiration for the artwork came from listening to community conversations.

The Juneteenth celebration is more special to Kimber this year.

“I can’t put it into words, it’s almost overwhelming. It’s a great celebration of the neighborhood and the struggle that our ancestors lived through,” Kimber added.

Where their house used to be is now a part of the Town Common Park with a commemorative stone for their grandmother.

The City of Greenville will continue celebrating Juneteenth on Saturday at the town commons from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.