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St. Frederick’s hosting community-wide Juneteenth celebration

Bessie Jackson

St. Frederick Baptist Church of Marble Falls is hosting a Juneteenth celebration from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at the church, 301 Avenue N. Congregation member Bessie Jackson is one of the organizers of the event. File photo

St. Frederick Baptist Church of Marble Falls is inviting everyone to its “Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom” event on Saturday, June 18. It runs from noon to 4 p.m. at the church, 301 Avenue N, and features music, food, and games.

“It’s not just about us as a race but recognizes all the contributions we’ve made to America,” said Bessie Jackson, a church member and one of the organizers of the event. “Yes, we seem to have a lot to fight about in this country, but there’s a lot more we have to celebrate. Juneteenth is a chance for all of us to come together and celebrate.”

Juneteenth recognizes the story of Black people in America. The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, the day U.S. Army Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and issued General Order No. 3, enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas. Until then, the state had not recognized President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation, which was issued 2½ years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863. 

Granger went to Galveston with 2,000 Union soldiers, freeing about 250,000 enslaved people in Texas. The Emancipation Proclamation helped lead to the passage of the 13th Amendment on Dec. 6, 1865, which outlawed slavery in the United States and freed all enslaved people. 

Juneteenth took on special meaning among freed men and women of Texas, the last state to recognize the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth celebrations began popping up in parks and outdoor locations in Texas within a year of the state’s recognition of the law.

“When I studied this, I found why Juneteenth was in parks and outside,” Jackson said. “(Black people) were not allowed to congregate inside a lot of places, so we held the celebrations outdoors and in parks. You still see that today.”

Texas recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday in 1979, the first state to do so. On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill that made Juneteenth a national holiday. 

Juneteenth celebrates the accomplishments of Black Americans and their legacy in this country, Jackson said.

“The backs of slaves helped build this country, and the blood of slaves helped build the soil,” she continued. “But we as Black people have contributed so much to this country over the years, not just as slaves but by what we do every day. We sometimes forget that America is a melting pot made up of so many different people who all have contributed to this country.”

Despite the issues that pull people apart, Jackson believes much more brings us together.

“I think God is trying to tell us that we need to come together, and Juneteenth is a time to do that,” she said. “As it says in the Bible, ‘Come now, let us reason together.’ (Isaiah 12:18)”