History of the June Festival
The June Festival started out as the Juneteenth Picnic. This picnic was started to celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves. Freed slaves first celebrated Juneteenth on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas.
In the year of 1896, several Deacons (Henry Johnson, Toby Smart, Jimmy Williams, and Abraham Benjamin) and a Pastor Rev. Nelson of Long Branch Baptist Church, met and decided they would have what is known would be the Sixth of June Picnic which would be celebrated annually, with free dinners and lemonade. After using the Church yard for a number of years the picnics grew so large it was moved into the Town of Gifford, SC. The Sixth of June Picnic is still growing by leaps and good thoughts. The picnic is still largely attended by all citizens in and around the Gifford area.
In 1976, James Risher was elected Mayor. he helped turn our June Family Picnic into a 3 day Festival which later became a week long celebration which includes bingo night, pageants, movie night and more. The finale is on Saturday with a parade, carnival, food vendors, softball tournaments, and more!
Dedicated citizens, Albertha G. Mitchell, Melef Williams, and the late John B. McCoy and Chester Williams would bring former Gifford Citizens back to celebrate the Sixth of June Festival on Chartered Buses.
This celebration brings individuals that have moved away back to Gifford, to celebrate with family and friends. The festival continues to grow each year with the support from town citizens, surrounding towns, counties and visitors. We encourage everyone to come and experience the magic of the Gifford June Festival.
Keep In Your Heart The Blood
History of the Rosenwald School
The Julius Rosenwald Fund was established in 1915 to provide grants to African Americans for school construction. Rosenwald, president of the Sears Roebuck Company, worked closely with Tuskegee Institute in Alabama to develop the program. Rosenwald focused his school construction efforts on those states with mandated racial segregation of its school. Ultimately, 15 states participated in the school construction program. 500 Rosenwald-funded buildings were constructed in South Carolina. Rosenwald required that all new school buildings be constructed along a specific set of plans developed by architects and educators at Tuskegee. The fund also required a match by the local school district and by the African American community. The Rosenwald Funded schools mark the first time in South Carolina's history that a consistent black school construction program occurred as the state was not committed to educating black children. As time passed, these schools fell into disrepair. In 1951, many of the students that attended Rosenwald Schools were consolidated into equalization schools and the old schools closed.
Research has found that the Rosenwald program accounts for a sizable portion of the educational gains of rural southern blacks. This research also found significant effects on school attendance, literacy, years of schooling, cognitive test scores, and northern migration, with gains highest in the most disadvantaged counties.
Gifford Ronsenwald School has two teachers for an average of almost 200 students a year in grades 1-9 until it closed in 1958. That year a new school serving Gifford and Luray, built by an equalization program seeking to preserve school segregation, replaced the 1921 school. The old school has been used for church services and Sunday School classes since 1958. Gifford Community Night is the second Thursday of each month at 6:00pm.