East Texans celebrate freedom on Juneteenth

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

TX (KTRE)- Freedom always comes with a price and on June 19th, East Texans remember those who fought so hard to get it.

"My family used to be slaves and it's an honor that I get to be free even though they weren't but I get to celebrate," said 12-year-old Levante Williams, of Lufkin.

"The real reason we're celebrating freedom is because it's a divine gift," said Candidate for State House District 12, James White.

Organizers for celebrations held in Lufkin and Nacogdoches hope young people can learn from Saturday's Juneteenth celebrations.

"We want to encourage them to get their education, to stay in school, to do all of those wonderful things their parents and grandparents and great grandparents fought for," said Organizer Charlotte Stokes, of Nacogdoches.

"I hope they can feel the spirit of Juneteenth and just learn that we can come together as a community," said Grand Marshal of the Nacogdoches Juneteenth Parade, Rachel Johnson. "It's been taken out of the history books but there are a lot of teachers who always remember this time in history and they teach it to the kids," said Johnson.

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. But the Civil War wasn't over.

"In 1865 in Galveston a General in the Union Army came to Texas and he declared Independence Day for those who were owned by others, a horrible institution," said Texas State Representative Jim McReynolds.

East Texans remember those that came before them, and the sacrifices that were made.

"This is a day representing all the hard work my forefathers did for me to be here," said Dorthy Maxie with Sisters of Integrity in Lufkin.

"It means a lot to me and my mom and my family," said 9-year-old Miracle Polk of Lufkin.

Celebrations kicked off in Nacogdoches at the EJ Campbell Elementary School, and in Lufkin at Brandon Park.

There was music, food and fun for everyone.

Several also visited the Consolidated Communications mobile studio.

KTRE has partnered with Consolidated Communications as part of a plan to expand community outreach efforts.

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