Monday, 23/10/2017 | : : UTC-5
Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

City of Harker Heights to host Juneteenth Festival

Sara Escobar

Evening Star

On June 17, the city of Harker Heights is holding its annual Juneteenth Festival at the Harker Heights Events Center, 701 Edwards Drive. This free community event will begin at 3 p.m. and is for the entire family, with food, entertainment, live bands, bounce houses and games being provided. Many local vendors will be attending, such as EJ’s Elegant Eats, OOH WA WA Gourmet Popcorn, NeNe’s Creations Salon, Lady’s Pastry Paradise and much more. Poetry will also be read aloud, with a Soul Food cook off, talent show and fashion show to follow.

Courtesy Photo
Horse riding instructor and vendor, Tshombe Christian, during the Juneteenth Festival

Juneteenth, or the “19th of June” is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, Union General Gordon Granger announced freedom for all slaves in the southwest. This was the last major vestige of slavery in the United States following the end of the Civil War. The declaration came over two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln. Juneteenth is considered America’s second Independence Day and the oldest African American Holiday in observance.

According to www.juneteenth.com, “Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future. Its growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long overdue. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today. Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our society.”

This year, Juneteenth is celebrating 153 years of freedom and unity. For the past 26 years, the Juneteenth Festival has been held in Killeen, although it is not clear why it will be in Harker Heights this year. An organizer for the Killeen event, Roosevelt Huggins, told the press in 2014 that this celebration is for the community. “It’s not just for one race, creed, or national origin. When the slaves were freed, it was such a jubilation that was met with dancing, singing and praying. We feel that Juneteenth gives us a chance to celebrate what those people were celebrating then.”

For more information about the upcoming Juneteenth Festival in Harker Heights, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/195005487679530/ or call 254 554 3600.

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