Annual Juneteenth Emancipation celebration honors past, present

Noah Prophet performs with the Greater Houston All Star Band

Noah Prophet performs with the Greater Houston All Star Band. Credit Jorge Sanhueza Lyon KUT

Friday marks the 150th anniversary of the day that brought freedom to 250,000 African-Americans from slavery in Texas, commonly known as Juneteenth. President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and published it on January 1, 1863, but it did not reach Texas for two years.

A Galveston native, Hayes Turner described the scene in an essay, "the 19th of June wasn't the exact day the Negro was freed". It was on Juneteenth that Union General Granger read "General Order No. 3" on the balcony of Galveston's Ashton Villa.

Steve Hoff of Buffalo said culture is one of the main reasons, apart from the motorcycle show, that he visits for both days every year.

The city of Durham held its annual Juneteenth celebration on Saturday. While it is not as well-known or widely taught in schools as other dates in history, it is one of the most important. "I think the problem is people stop talking and just remain angry", said Walls.

In recent years, festival-goer Sharon Doyle has noticed more importance on placed on security.

The event had praise dancing, spoken word, and live music. There are a lot of young people here [that] will probably ask what Juneteenth is, and there are people here that can explain that to them. In it, African-American men, women, and children crowd around a single pocket watch, waiting for the clock to strike midnight and the Emancipation Proclamation to take effect. His church, Antioch Baptist, and Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church formed the Colored People's Festival and Emancipation Park Association. A year ago the celebration attracted more than 70,000 people over two days.

"We need to celebrate our history", Paulk said.

The teen said if slavery still existed in America, there would be chaos.

Adding Juneteenth to those ranks would be another way of showing that the country is serious about embracing its diversity and celebrating its most important struggles.

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