East Austin community celebrates Juneteenth

Miss Juneteenth and her court wave to the crowd

Miss Juneteenth and her court wave to the crowd. Credit Jorge Sanhueza Lyon KUT

Juneteenth is still two days away, but the celebration of this important milestone in Texas history snaked its way across the east side Saturday morning in an energetic parade.

Juneteenth marks the day General Gordon Granger gave the news of freedom to slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865 in Galveston.

The event had praise dancing, spoken word, and live music.

On June 19, 1865, slaves in Texas first heard of their freedom almost three years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Byron Baer, one of the sponsors of the bill that recognized Juneteenth in New Jersey.

The festival has moved far from its Southern roots and is celebrated across the nation.

Brice talked a bit about the history behind the holiday, and asked what many people have wondered, "What took them so long to get to Galveston?"

This year, like previous years, the celebrations were meant to highlight black community leaders and people uplifting the black community.

Mayor Sylvester Turner led rededication ceremonies at the Emancipation Park property, bought more than 140 years ago by ex-slaves who pooled their money to raise hundreds of dollars.

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order which declared that all slaves in the Confederate States were free. It's not just a day for the descendants of those freed slaves - it's a day that everyone in the country should celebrate, because the country became a freer place that day, and that benefitted everyone. "They want to see us succeed". He believed their role is often forgotten or left out of the historical narrative.

Not Gaddy, owner of I Drum 2 U in Augusta, held an African drum workshop for the kids at the event.

It's from the spirit of unity, that the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African American Museum was born. "Be it African American, be it Mexican American, but American and to enjoy that freedom".

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