On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln put into motion the Emancipation Proclamation, ending slavery in the United States. But it wasn’t until June 1865, after the surrender of General Lee, that former slaves in Texas received the news of their true freedom. The news was received on June 19th, so today “Juneteenth” is celebrated nationally in recognition of the past and future of civil rights.
While it began with a focus on freedom for African-Americans, Juneteenth has become a celebration of freedom as well as motivation for future progress, as our country strives for extended civil rights and equality. Though the specific history involves the people of Texas, the gatherings now take place all over the country and include people of all races and backgrounds. Despite its serious roots and message, Juneteenth is a joyous occasion. Traditional celebrations involve huge barbecues and large gatherings of people. With an emphasis on community and excitement, other activities might include prayer services, sports games, and speeches from elders of the community who recount stories from the past.
The citizens of Manhattan have taken the opportunity to join the nation in commemorating the history of civil rights, and in moving forward in the spirit of equality. Following the tradition of Juneteenth festivities, the 25th annual celebration in Manhattan will include a festival in City Park, starting at 7pm on Friday, June 20th and continuing on through 5pm on Saturday, June 21st.
Join the Manhattan celebration for any or all of these activities:
- Gospel Fest starting at 7pm on Friday, June 20th
- Parade at 10am starting in the Sears parking lot at Manhattan Town Center
- 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament (Finals at City Park at 1pm on Saturday, June 21st)
- Reading of the Proclamation by Mayor Wynn Butler
- Guest speech by Mr. Lorenza Lockett
- Show by local reggae band Muzizi
- Children’s activities throughout the day include
- Train rides
- Bouncy castle
- Finger painting
- Ring toss
- Many more activities!