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VERIFY: Yes, SC Juneteenth banner featured white models, there were different versions featuring other races

Photos of a banner for an event in Greenville, SC, celebrating the emancipation of Black slaves are going viral over the choice in models used.

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Organizers for a Juneteenth celebration in Greenville, South Carolina, are receiving backlash on social media over marketing material for the event.

Juneteenth, marked on June 19th, celebrates the emancipation of the westernmost slaves in the U.S. It took Union troops until that date in 1865 to finally reach Texas and inform those there that enslaved Black people were free by executive decree.

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Some people online are sharing photos of a promotional banner for the Juneteenth GVL event, skewering organizers for their use of white models.


Are photos of the Juneteenth GVL banners, with white models, real?


  • Recent footage of downtown Greenville, SC, from NBC affiliate WYFF
  • Rueben Hays, Founder and Executive Director of Juneteenth GVL


This is true.

Yes, there are Juneteenth banners in downtown Greenville featuring white models. However, there are different versions of the banner around the area featuring models of other races.

What we found

Footage of downtown Greenville from NBC affiliate WYFF shows several banners on light posts in the downtown area advertising the upcoming Juneteenth celebration.

The viral banner, featuring a white couple, is there, and there are other banners depicting people of different races, including one with a single Black woman and another one with an older Black couple.

Credit: WYFF

The organization behind the Juneteenth materials told WYFF it was trying to portray how everyone is welcomed to join in Juneteenth celebrations and how everyone must come together to push any vision forward.

That said -- Hays is apologizing for the delivery of that message.

"We understand that it's a very sensitive subject, especially in the African American community," Hays said. "We failed at making sure that we completely centered African Americans at the center of our marketing, of all of our marketing."

In addition to apologizing, organizers said they plan to change the banners to feature the Juneteenth and Pan-African flags.

Contact Vanessa Ruffes at vruffes@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit VERIFY.

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