The Black Heritage Committee invites the community to celebrate Juneteenth Day, also known as Freedom Day, on June 17.
The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Martin Luther King Park on the 2700 block of South Union Avenue, adjacent to Monterrey Elementary School.
Juneteenth Day celebrates the freedom of African-descended slaves in Texas. Even though President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, it did not take effect until June 19, 1865, in Texas, after union soldiers marched to Texas to inform slave holders that slavery was no longer legal.
Juneteenth is a combination of “June” and “19th.”
Alice Wagoner, a coordinator for Juneteenth Day, says it will be similar to past events. The celebration will include activities, games, food, music and local art on display.
“I’m looking at doing musical chairs for adults, an egg rally, and some games for the kids as well,” Wagoner said. “I’m still getting it together at this point. I’m looking at having some local talent displaying their art on a table for display.”
Wagoner hopes that the community will participate in the event.
“I hope that people will come out and participate,” Wagoner said. “I hope that people will come out and enjoy the day and also be informed of talent in the community,”
Natasha N. Mackey, a city councilor and singer, is slated to be the feature speaker for the event. She will be speaking from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. on the topic of freedom.
She also plans to sing a combination of patriotic and gospel songs during her allotted time.
Mackey believes in order to prevent mistakes from repeating themselves, people must first become informed.
“I definitely believe that it’s good to be aware of key, historical events that have taken place in the past,” she said. “Of course, one of the things they say is that history repeats itself, and so if we can avoid some of the pitfalls that we’ve seen in the past by educating ourselves and understanding what happened during those times, we can hopefully avoid making that same mistake again.”
Mackey hopes people can become inspired after attending the event.
“I’m always about unifying people and hopefully I’ll be able to say something that will inspire people to do their part as a community member,” Mackey said.
Wagoner said she plans on honoring some individuals at the Juneteenth Celebration who have accomplished great things, despite the fact they were enslaved.
“We want to give honor to those people and to let people know that many of the black people, they did achieve. They did do things even while they were under oppression,” Wagoner said.
Some examples Wagoner provided include Harriet Tubman, a prominent figure who led thousands of slaves to their freedom using the Underground Railroad. An important individual from that era who may not be as well-known is Lewis Howard Latimer. He was an inventor who improved Thomas Edison’s original design of the lightbulb.
Tobosa Developmental Services is co-sponsoring the event.
For more information on Juneteenth Day, contact the Black Heritage Committee at 575-317-4045.
General assignment reporter Katy Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or firstname.lastname@example.org.