2019 Juneteenth celebration set

by Cristin Parker cristin@thecherokeean.com
File photo
Community members from all over Cherokee County enjoy the picnic lunch during last year’s Juneteenth celebration at Conley Park in Rusk. File photo
Community members from all over Cherokee County enjoy the picnic lunch during last year’s Juneteenth celebration at Conley Park in Rusk.

Everyone is invited to help celebrate the historic news during the annual Cherokee County Juneteenth parade and picnic, on Saturday, June 15 in Rusk.

The parade will kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday and follow the traditional parade route around the downtown square in Rusk. Parade line-up will start at 10:45 a.m. Saturday, along Sycamore Street behind Austin Bank-Rusk.

“We invite anyone and everyone -- churches, motor clubs, civic clubs -- to come participate in the parade,” Cherokee County Brotherhood (CCB) member and event co-organizer Oliver Sturns said.

The event’s annual program at Mt. Pleasant Church, 208 Reeder St., Rusk.

After the parade, bring an appetite to I.C. Conley Park and enjoy the free community picnic

“Everybody’s welcome,” Rusk Mayor Pro-tem Walter Session said. “We’ll have burgers and dogs, cold drinks and all kinds of desserts – and it’s all free to community members.”

Rusk’s annual celebration is sponsored by the Texas Informer, the Cherokee County Brotherhood and the city of Rusk.

“I want to say the city has been very supportive and helpful,” Sturns said. “We want to thank all our city officials for their help and support every year.”

According to the Texas State Historical Association’s (TSHA) Handbook of Texas Online, found at tshaonline.org, Juneteenth, June 19, is celebrated across the state each year to honor the date the state’s approximately 250,000 slaves received the news they were free, after the end of the American Civil War.

“(The holiday) is a good time to help education people about the significance of Juneteenth,” Session said. “There’s a lot of people who don’t know why we celebrate this day, including a lot of younger African Americans. It’s also a great opportunity to build bridges across our community and bring people of all races together.”

TSHA’s website reports on June 19, 1865, Union Gen. Gordon Granger visited Galveston to issue General Order Number 3, which read, “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.”

Juneteenth became an official state holiday in 1979, after State Rep. Al Edwards (D-Houston), filed a bill calling for June 19 to become a state-observed holiday.

Texas Gov. William P. Clements, Jr. signed it into law, and the first state-sponsored Juneteenth celebration took place in 1980.

The holiday is also observed in 45 other states and Washington, D.C.