Get ready for Juneteenth

Published 10:48 pm Thursday, June 7, 2018

LANETT — The Juneteenth Community Festival held at Goodsell Methodist Church is an annual community event that a growing number of people look forward to each year. This year’s festival will be taking place this Saturday, June 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT. It’s the seventh year Goodsell has hosted the event and as always, admission is free. There will be family fun, live music from a stage, plenty of food and refreshments, craft vendors and plenty of fun things to do.

Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, is an American holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery in the state of Texas and more generally the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans throughout the former Confederacy.

African-American celebrations since that time have featured readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and readings of the works of noted African-American writers suck as Maya Angelou, Ralph Ellison and Langston Hughes.

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Over the years, celebrations have included cookouts, rodeos, street fairs, family reunions, historic
reenactments and even Miss Juneteenth beauty contests.

In 1980, Texas became the first state to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday. A total of 45 states recognize it today.

Dr. Randy B. Kelley, pastor of Goodsell Methodist Church, said that the Juneteenth celebrations at Goodsell are family oriented events.

“We educate while we celebrate,” he said, adding that the lack of telling the whole story though history had placed barriers between whites and blacks, preventing them from knowing each other as they should.

Part of the local Juneteenth celebrations have been poster and essay contests that encourage today’s youth to study the history of Juneteenth and to have a better understanding of what really happened in the post-Civil War period. There’s substantial evidence to suggest that African-American history through this period has been suppressed. Dr. Kelley said that while the Lost Cause was glorified, “as African-Americans, our story wasn’t told.”

Even eminent African-American scholars such as Harvard-educated Carter Woodson claimed that what they’d been taught about the African-American experience and what they’d been taught about individual blacks was overwhelmingly negative.

Dr. Kelley saidnthe struggles African Americans endured produced many heroes and heroines who are largely unknown today due to the suppression of black history in favor of the embellishment of the Lost Cause.

“This struggle needs to be known,” he said.

The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and the many marches and civil disobedience such as the sit-ins at lunch counters offered teaching moments for all of society.

“Today, we have scientists marching, women marching and children from schools marching,” he said.