When Freedom Comes: A Celebration of Juneteenth

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Luckett, a former basketball star at Kolbe Boys High School and Ohio University, emphasized the importance of involving young people in the event. Students from Central, Kolbe Cathedral and Bassick high schools in Bridgeport have been invited to participate. After the parade, which will process down Broad Street to Fairfield Avenue and then Main Street, the celebration will continue until 7 p. Numerous vendors have participated in the festivities for several years. Buy photo. Caption Close. Image 1 of Back to Gallery. Most Popular.

The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation.

Bridgeport’s Juneteenth festivities celebrate freedom

All of which, or neither of these version could be true. General Order Number 3. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer. The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former 'masters' - attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom.

Even with nowhere to go , many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom. North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove the some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory.

The celebration of June 19 th was coined "Juneteenth " and grew with more participation from descendants.

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The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date. Juneteenth Festivities and Food.

A range of activities were provided to entertain the masses, many of which continue in tradition today. Rodeos , fishing , barbecuing and baseball are just a few of the typical Juneteenth activities you may witness today. Juneteenth almost always focused on education and self improvement.

Juneteenth: The Celebration Of African-American Emancipation From Slavery

Thus, often guest speakers are brought in and the elders are called upon to recount the events of the past. Prayer services were also a major part of these celebrations. Certain foods became popular and subsequently synonymous with Juneteenth celebrations such as strawberry soda-pop. More traditional and just as popular was the barbecuing, through which Juneteenth participants could share in the spirit and aromas that their ancestors - the newly emancipated African Americans, would have experienced during their ceremonies. Hence, the barbecue pit is often established as the center of attention at Juneteenth celebrations.

Food was abundant because everyone prepared a special dish.


Meats such as lamb, pork and beef which not available everyday were brought on this special occasion. A true Juneteenth celebrations left visitors well satisfied and with enough conversation to last until the next.

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Dress was also an important element in early Juneteenth customs and is often still taken seriously, particularly by the direct descendants who can make the connection to this tradition's roots. During slavery there were laws on the books in many areas that prohibited or limited the dressing of the enslaved. During the initial days of the emancipation celebrations, there are accounts of former slaves tossing their ragged garments into the creeks and rivers to adorn clothing taken from the plantations belonging to their former 'masters'. Juneteenth and Society.

In the early years, little interest existed outside the African American community in participation in the celebrations. In some cases, there was outwardly exhibited resistance by barring the use of public property for the festivities. Most of the festivities found themselves out in rural areas around rivers and creeks that could provide for additional activities such as fishing , horseback riding and barbecues. Often the church grounds was the site for such activities. Eventually, as African Americans became land owners, land was donated and dedicated for these festivities.

One of the earliest documented land purchases in the name of Juneteenth was organized by Rev. Jack Yates. In Mexia , the local Juneteenth organization purchased Booker T.

Juneteenth: Freedom At Last

Washington Park , which had become the Juneteenth celebration site in There are accounts of Juneteenth activities being interrupted and halted by white landowners demanding that their laborers return to work. However, it seems most allowed their workers the day off and some even made donations of food and money.


For decades these annual celebrations flourished , growing continuously with each passing year. In Booker T. Juneteenth Celebrations Decline. Classroom and textbook education in lieu of traditional home and family-taught practices stifled the interest of the youth due to less emphasis and detail on the activities of former slaves. The Depression forced many people off the farms and into the cities to find work.

In these urban environments, employers were less eager to grant leaves to celebrate this date. Thus, unless June 19 th fell on a weekend or holiday, there were very few participants available. July 4 th was the already established Independence holiday and a rise in patriotism steered more toward this celebration. While it pulled many of the African American youth away and into the struggle for racial equality, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors.