Juneteenth falls on a Monday this year, but the celebrations begin on Friday. It’s the oldest known celebration that commemorates the day enslaved people in Texas learned of their freedom.
On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordan Granger landed at Galveston with the news that the war had ended and people who were enslaved were indeed free. Only, it was more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. He made it official on Jan. 1, 1863. Limited Union troops in Texas and resistance meant the executive order had not been enforced.
General Order Number 3 Reads:
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freed are advised to remain at their present homes, and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”
The holiday has been a staple for Texas residents, and spread to other parts of the country through the years. It’s celebrated with parades, concerts, church events, barbecues, picnics, dramatic readings, and more. It may also include the singing of “Lift Every Voice,” known as the black national anthem.
Here in Tyler, much of the festivities focus on family-friendly events, lending an opportunity to help young children understand their history and heritage.
“It’s important for younger generation to get involved so they can continue this legacy,” said Ed Moore, Tyler city councilman and member of the Juneteenth Association of Tyler.
For the first time, local recording/performance artist Nigel Ross and community leader Marlondos Fields will host a charitable event— the Summer Slam Jam— to benefit North Tyler Development Academy.
“Juneteenth isn’t just an African-American celebration of emancipation, it’s a community celebration,” Ross said. “We decided to organize this charity game because it’s important for us to try and unite our community while at the same time raising money for a great organization.”
Charity Summer Slam Jam — 6 p.m., Glass Recreation Center
Chu’Zu Music and Yesterday’s Tomorrow will host the first Charity Summer Slam Jam from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 16 at Glass Recreation Center, 501 W. 32nd St.
The event features a basketball game and entertainment from DJs and performance artists.
Food, games and giveaways will also be available to attendees. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., the three-point shootout begins at 6:30 p.m. and game tip off is at 7 p.m.
Admission costs $3 for children ages 13 and under. Adult admission is $5. A portion of the proceeds benefit the North Tyler Development Academy.
Gospel Explosion — 6 p.m., People’s Missionary Baptist Church
More than a dozen gospel choirs will be performing at People’s Missionary Baptist Church at 2908 Bellwood Road. Rev. Marcus Jackson is the pastor.
Annual Juneteenth Parade and Family Day at the Park—10 a.m., Downtown Square
The parade begins at the corner of Glenwood and Martin Luther King Blvd. It then heads east on MLK to Border Street, then north to Woldert Park. The free event at Woldert Park features games, talent show, speakers, food, refreshments and vendor booths. The Juneteenth Association of Tyler will also introduce winners of seven $500 scholarships. City Councilman Ed Moore will serve grand marshal. The Association is accepting parade entries (up to 300 total) through Tuesday. Each entry costs $15. Four-wheelers are prohibited from the parade.
Downtown Juneteenth Festival — 4:00 pm -11 p.m.
Live bands, including R&B group Silk, and food and drinks for purchase. Tickets cost $25 and VIP tickets cost $50. They can be purchased online or at the Tyler Metro Chamber of Commerce, 2000 W.Gentry Pkwy.