Juneteenth celebration draws large crowd

Jun 18, 2012

Hot, humid weather didn't keep the crowds away from Martin Luther King Park on Sunday for the annual Juneteenth celebration.

In 1865, slaves in Galveston, Texas learned they had been freed months before but the news had traveled slowly in the chaos of the end of the Civil War.

When the word arrived that June, the newly-freed celebrated their Juneteenth and have continued the celebration to this day.

County Legislature Chair Betty Jean Grant says younger people see the weekend of events in the park and don't understand why the party.
"Many people see this as a day of celebration. They know it's Juneteenth;  they don't know why we are celebrating  so, we try to inform them," Grant said.

"People like Eva Doyle... make sure people know the history of Juneteenth. So, in addition to celebrating, we also have videos, we have people telling people Do you know about Juneteenth? Do you know why we celebrate Juneteenth?

 The committee which sponsors the celebration is also aware of that lack of knowledge and is working on spreading the word.

Public Relations and Marketing head Jerome Williams says that education is spread across the event.

"(The) theme this year is breaking the invisible chains and what we want to do is get people more aware of what Juneteenth is all about and how it's about freedom and celebration. A lot of people really consider it the Fourth of July for African-Americans,  Independence Day for African-Americans.)

With more and more African immigrants moving into this area, the restaurants and the merchandise stands reflect African roots and foods.