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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Juneteenth Brownwood

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    Saturday June 17, 2006

    Freedom Celebration — Luncheon kicks off Juneteenth weekend events
    By Candace Cooksey Fulton — Brownwood Bulletin

    Freedom is a fine thing to celebrate.
    And at Friday’s “Soul Food” luncheon, the kickoff event for this weekend’s annual Juneteenth celebration, Adelia Houston Kirk said, “I don’t think you can celebrate your freedom too much.
    “People ask me all the time, ‘Why don’t blacks celebrate the Fourth of July?’ ‘We do celebrate the Fourth of July,’ I tell them, ‘but history reminds us that blacks were still enslaved when the U.S. obtained its freedom.’”
    Juneteenth, which is the contracted name for June 19, is a celebration of freedom for African-Americans in Texas and several other southern states. The holiday commemorates the announcement Union Gen. Gordon Granger made June 19, 1865, in Galveston, letting citizens know that the Civil War had ended two months before, and that two and a half years before that, President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves in the United States.
    “Juneteenth symbolizes the end of slavery,” Kirk said. “Juneteenth has come to symbolize for many African Americans what the Fourth of July symbolizes for all Americans — freedom.”
    But Juneteenth could — and should — have an added and deeper meaning for all Americans, Kirk added.
    “Juneteenth serves as a historical milestone reminding Americans of the triumph of the human spirit over the cruelty of slavery,” she said.
    Due to the minimal Union presence in the region, slaves and slave holders had been essentially unaffected by Lincoln’s efforts to free the slaves. June 19 — which was quickly shortened to “Juneteenth” among celebrants — has become the African-American addendum to Independence Day.
    Friday’s “Soul Food” lunch was the kick off for the weekend’s activities. Today, there will be a parade in downtown Brownwood, leaving from the coliseum at 11 a.m. Then, at Cecil Holman Park, all kinds of activities will continue, including a Miss Juneteenth Pageant this evening, and a Juneteenth program from 1 p.m. until 1:30 p.m.
    The state of Texas made Juneteenth an official holiday on Jan. 1, 1980, and Monday, most state offices will be closed. In Brown County, however, county offices will be open. The holiday is promoted not only as a commemoration of African-American freedom, but as an example and encouragement of self-development and respect for all cultures.

    Juneteenth events and more beckon

    “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. ... The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.”— Abraham Lincoln, Message to Congress, Dec. 1, 1862

    By Candace Cooksey Fulton — Brownwood Bulletin

    Here it is. Another amazing day in the “Brown-Town” and surrounding areas has just arrived and is waiting to be tried on for size. From activities at Riverside Park, offered by Parents Without Partners the farmer’s market downtown, to “B-I-N-G-O” and a country musical hosted by the Lake Brownwood Lions Club, to the rodeo at Zephyr.
    How’s that for an “A” to “Z” lineup? Activities is an a-word and Zephyr starts with Z. It’s not every Saturday that the consonants are so cooperative, you know.
    Of course, let’s not forget to mention the doings and chewings at Cecil Holman Park in celebration of Juneteenth. The real “Juneteenth” (June 19) is Monday, but this is the weekend closest to the date, and there’s lots of fun for everyone planned as part of the event.
    Don’t you love a parade?
    Well, the Juneteenth celebration would hardly be a celebration without one. If you’re a parade participant, show up at the coliseum at 10 a.m. If you’re coming to watch, the step off time is 11 a.m. from the coliseum. The parade follows the traditional downtown route (across on Baker, down to the courthouse, down Center and back up Fisk), ending back up where it started.
    Juneteenth’s still jumping
    After the parade, the activities will continue at Cecil Holman Park and include (but are not limited to) concession stands, scheduled to open at noon; then from 1 until 1:30 p.m., a Juneteenth program is planned. Other activities include children’s relays and activities, an “Old School vs New School” softball game and, on this evening, a Juneteenth pageant naming Miss Juneteenth (from contestants ages 13 to 19) and Little Miss Juneteenth (contestants ages 9 to 12). Also, the announcement of the 2006 scholarship recipient will be made.