EDINBURG, Texas – Edinburg, county seat of Hidalgo County, Texas, wasted no time in celebrating the newest national holiday, Juneteenth.
Morning presentations stressed the importance of that first event in Galveston, on June 19, 1865—more than two years after President Lincoln’s proclamation.
The Emancipation Proclamation was revealed to slaves that had been held, working, but not informed of the dramatic change, in Texas. African Americans, for years, have celebrated the symbolism of that day, but despaired of the reality. The mood at this evening’s gathering seemed like the promise of a new beginning.
Planning and execution of the event, held on the mall, outside City Hall, were precise and smooth. Evening events included music, crafts, and food. The mood was jovial as hundreds of people of all ethnic groups easily mingled and chatted, enjoying the choirs and solo singers.
Two ministers—one Black, one White–met, for the first time, only to find out they both were from Memphis and had attended Texas Christian University. Bishop M. Smith, of Faith Church, McAllen, and Reverend Samuel Simon, pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples), Edinburg, shared some of the experiences of their ministries.
Not surprising, other people of faith were in support and attendance; Alphonzo Gatlin, with Village in the Valley (VIVA), spoke of his organization’s mission “to unite the Black community and connect with other cultures in the Rio Grande Valley.” Professors and students from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and various Valley grade and high schools, were also present.
But, often, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” this reporter concluded, as he chatted with and snapped a photo of Juneteenth supporters, Harold and Deya Brown, and daughter, Adele, he from Austin originally, she from the Valley. Their charming daughter, they intend, shall be bi-lingual and bi-cultural.
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