Nacogdoches residents gather downtown for annual Juneteenth celebration

Published: Jun. 19, 2022 at 3:39 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 19, 2022 at 3:41 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - East Texans attended events throughout the weekend for the celebration of Juneteenth. The holiday has been recognized as a federal holiday across the country for a whole year.

In Nacogdoches, they kicked things off Saturday morning with a parade on the downtown brick road. The community gathered to remember the past, celebrate the present, and embrace the future. Vendors, food, and kid activities were available throughout the Festival Park.

“… for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord 1863, and in accordance with my purpose …” Nacogdoches resident, Shante Teal said as she was reading part of President Abraham Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation” that ended slavery that same year. That news did not arrive in Texas until a later time.

“So it took two years for them to get down to Texas to let us know that we were free …” said Yolanda Tatum, the executive director of the Brown Family Health Center.

June 19th has been designated as the Black Americans National Independence Day, and it celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. In 2021, President Joe Biden signed legislation designating June 19 as a federal holiday.

Past event organizer Patrick Sanders explained the importance the date holds.

“I think everybody is ecstatic that it is now a federal holiday,” Sanders said. “You know, that was a long hard fight for Juneteenth to become a federal holiday. Originally, Juneteenth was only celebrated in Texas, and now it’s celebrated all over the United States so that in itself is a tremendous effort.”

Organizers said they are excited to see what next year brings for the celebration.

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