Kenneth Hale, president of the Charleston Branch of the NAACP, discussed the legendary figure John Henry, who is said to have died while constructing the Big Bend Tunnel near Talcott.
Hale said that while many people believe Henry was merely the product of folklore, West Virginians know he was a real man who was so great and strong that he inspired a legend.
"No matter what you believe," he said. "We know that there's a statue up on top of Big Bend Tunnel here that declares John Henry and his legacy was here in West Virginia as a steel-driving man, born with a hammer in his hand."
David Fryson, the chief diversity officer for West Virginia University, delivered the series' keynote address, challenging the attendees to look beyond themselves and contribute to the greater good of society.
"I think the people sitting here today, we have an opportunity to start bending towards justice," he said. "We are doing here today is not just a celebration, or at least it should not be. Every person here, when you leave here today, you need to think about what we can do to make this life better for those who are locked out, for those who are underserved."
The Juneteenth Celebrations will continue today at 6 p.m. at Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary School. The evening's theme will be "The Black Presence in Politics for Social Change."
The group will host a panel discussion on "The Black Presence in Educational Achievement" at West Virginia State University at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The series concludes at 7 p.m. Wednesday with the Juneenth Revival Celebration at First Baptist Church of Charleston.
Contact writer Charles Young at charles.yo...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1796.