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Juneteenth event at Columbia Museum of Art a celebration of Black artists

The pieces in the library will remain up year-round.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The organizers behind a free event at the Columbia Museum of Art on Sunday said they hoped to expose visitors to Black artists both on the local and national levels - on a particularly special day.

The tour was part of many festivities and educational events that were held on Juneteenth - a holiday that acknowledges the end of slavery in America. 

Nancy Tolson, assistant director of African American Studies at the University of South Carolina hosted the tour said there was quite the turnout. 

"I've never had a tour this large next to the 'van Gogh' tours," she said.

And she hopes the large crowd of over 40 people learned from the event. 

"Art is art, we have to stop assuming that just because we're at a museum, it's white art because it isn't," she said. "It's a collection of a variety of things."

RELATED: Juneteenth is today: Here's its 150-year history

Attendees like Lacretia Branch were inspired by the pieces on display. 

"Just to see all of us in unison, it was beautiful," she said. "Art is our healing, whether you create it or consume it, it's our healing. 

She added that there are stories to be told.

"And it's a way to leave a legacy," Branch said. "Art is like a representation of freedom because you can capture your real-life emotions and put it in art."

They were emotions that many on the tour felt when viewing the "Speak No" piece by Michaela Pilar Brown. Tolson said there is a reason she thinks the piece speaks so well to those on the tour. 

"I think it speaks volumes, especially today, and this representing Juneteenth - the spirit of Juneteenth is to speak. The 'X' across the mouth, the soldiers around the head, the battle that we're having, you know, all of that speaks and I think that is something that resonates with a lot of people." 

RELATED: Benedict College to restore Morgan Hall thanks to National Park Service grant

Tolson had one final message about the experience. 

"This is beautiful," she said.

The pieces in the library will remain up year-round.

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