History and patriotism holds a special place in Mr. Dickens’ heart. Therefore his other community projects include creating a non-profit organization called The Emancipation Day Festival of Northwest Florida, Inc. The focus of this organization is honoring the history of Emancipation Day also known as “May Day” in the state of Florida. This day is celebrated on May 20th of every year. It commemorates the emancipation of African-American slaves over 2 years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. On May 20, 1865 General Edward T. McCook announced the Proclamation on the steps of the Knott House in Tallahassee, FL. The festival is centered on honoring this rich American history and creating a family-centered community engagement for all.
-Since leaving Active Duty with the Army Reserves in September 2018 and enduring the turmoil of Hurricane Michael soon after, Byron Dickens has been busy and consistent with his work.
-On May 18, 2019 was to be the Inaugural Emancipation Day Festival, unfortunately, a civil dispute abruptly cancelled the event.
– On July 9, 2019 he was able to receive a unanimous 5-0 vote from the Jackson County Board of County Commissioners to proclaim May 20th as Emancipation Day in Jackson County Florida. !”
“This Proclamation was the single most impactful declaration for members of the Jackson County community in over 150 years since the devastation of the Jackson County Wars”- Byron Dickens
The FREEDOM MONTH OBSERVANCE was also created to designate the entire month of May to enrich, expand, and observe the holidays of Armed Forces Day, Emancipation Day, and Memorial Day throughout every grade level of each school in the Jackson County School District. On behalf of the Emancipation Day Festival of NW Florida, Inc. Mr. Dickens developed this observance and worked tirelessly with the Jackson County School Board to bring to fruition.
The Month will also designate “Freedom Week” for multiple activities to include:
- Art, Poetry, and Essay contests for Students
- Best supporting Teacher awards
- Miss and Junior Miss May Day Pageant
- A Red, White, & Blue 5k chalk run/walk
- A Celebration of Freedom Softball tournament
- In addition to working closely with the School District, Mr. Dickens is currently working with parents and the community to begin efforts to kick start the Project S.A.V.E. summer school program initiative. This summer school program will utilize music and performing arts to promote and act as a community builder while simultaneously incorporating mentorship, and tutoring activities that will help build and strengthen our local youth.
His entire career has been about producing results. Now he wants to provide his God given ability for his community.