By Coshandra Dillard
Hundreds of people showed up for the Juneteenth parade on Martin Luther King Boulevard and then converged at Woldert Park to commemorate the significance of the holiday.
It was all about family, teaching history, and embracing African American heritage. People reunited with friends and family, enjoyed food and expressed their proud black heritage through song, style of dress, and yes, even their hair.
Juneteenth is unique to Texas, as it recognizes the day formerly enslaved Texans learned of their freedom—albeit more than two years late—but it has become widely celebrated in other states across the country.
Here in Tyler, much of the celebration focuses on family-friendly events, lending an opportunity to help young children understand their history and heritage.
Community organizer, educator and natural hair specialist Kalae Whitman noted that the day allows black people to be both solemn and celebratory as they reflect on the journey of ancestors.
“It’s a day for the community to come out and it’s so peaceful,” she said. “Everybody has a good time … It’s like one big family reunion.”
Festivities began Friday night and continue through the weekend. Juneteenth is officially on Monday, the 152nd anniversary of the announcement that the enslaved had been freed in Texas.