AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — On Thursday, President Biden signed a law making Juneteenth a federal holiday. The holiday commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in Texas on June 19, 1865.
Saturday’s Juneteenth Neighborhood Celebration started with a parade which made its way to Bones Hooks Park with festivities throughout the day, including a history of the holiday.’
One of the organizers of the event, Melodie Graves said celebrating Juneteenth means freedom.
“It means a lot to me. It means a lot to come out here and see such a diverse crowd out here celebrating something that is so important to me,” said Graves.
Graves said that just because Juneteenth is now a federal holiday, doesn’t mean there isn’t work that still doesn’t need to be done in the community.
A sentiment that Amarillo Branch NAACP President Patrick Miller agrees with.
“I think after this is recognizing we need criminal justice reform and assuring we empower African American communities with economic catalyst projects to uplift those communities and to bring businesses in and to ensure at the local level we have a North Heights rezoning project that reflects the will of the people of north Amarillo,” said Miller.
Tremaine Brown, owner of Shi-Lee’s Bar-B-Que hopes that Juneteenth becoming a new federal holiday can start a conversation.
“It has an educational undertone now. People that didn’t know what Juneteenth was about, now it can be a conversation at their table and some of their kids might bring it up, ‘what does juneteenth mean?’ ‘where did it come from?’ now you can get on your phone and google juneteenth and have a bit of a history lesson to talk about and it’s a wonderful thing,” said Brown.
Graves said that they haven’t seen a turnout this large in several years and they are looking forward to having a larger turnout in the years to come.