Every year, the Rusk community proudly commemorates Juneteenth, not only as a celebration, but also as a teaching moment.
"We look forward to celebrating this every year, because we want our kids to remember what it means to us to have a Juneteenth celebration," said Oliver Sturns, President of the Cherokee County Brotherhood. "It's very important that our kids always know, you have a right to have things that a lot of people back then didn't. They didn't have that right."
"Back in the day, when I was growing up, the rights were not equal," said Walter Session, Rusk Mayor Pro Tem. "So it's very important to know what we had gone through and how it is today."
Community members were refreshed to see people of all races and ages celebrating and remembering together.
"It's wonderful that we can come together as a community, black and white, children and their grandparents, all different generations coming together to celebrate this," said Angela Raiborn, Mayor of Rusk.
While race relations have come a long way in Rusk, the community believes the nation as a whole has a long way to go, especially after the events that transpired in Charleston this week.
"It was a little bit disappointing in people here in 2015 still doing some of the things that happened in 1865," Session said.
"It was devastating," Raiborn said. "To see something like that happen in our country, I think it was evil."
That's why it's so important for the Rusk community to teach their children the prejudice of the past, so they can help build a more equal America.
"We don't ever want our kids not to remember where they come from," Sturns said. "There's no way of going forward if you don't know where you come from."
"We have a long way to go for some people to see us as equal and not second class citizens," Session said.