The YWCA’s seventh annual Juneteenth Community Freedom Festival is from noon to 3 p.m. today at Propheter Park in Sterling. This event is all about community, and we hope that everyone will join us to be a part of it.
This year, the festival will be filled with live entertainment, children’s activities, a barbecue, and a community market, featuring more than 30 booths from local artists, gardeners, businesses and organizations.
Although local residents may not have heard of it, Juneteenth is celebrated across the country by people of all races, ethnicities and religions and is an official holiday in 26 states.
This holiday honors the date when news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally arrived in Texas.
In pre-TV, pre-Internet times, news traveled so slowly that Texas heard of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on June 19, 1865, more than 2 years after it was issued. Americans who were formerly enslaved reacted, not only with shock and disbelief, but also with jubilant celebration. Annual Juneteenth celebrations began the following year and have continued since then.
America’s dark history of slavery may seem like a distant memory we would rather forget, but it profoundly impacted our nation, our people, and the world. Celebrating Juneteenth gives us an opportunity to learn more about our history, grow in our awareness and knowledge, celebrate our freedom, and look to our future.
Every year, the festival grows, and it is so exciting to see people coming together. We know that when we all come together and embrace a shared vision of community, then peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all is possible.
For additional information, please call us at 815-625-0333.
Note to readers: Rebecca Munoz-Ripley is the YWCA’s director of marketing and community services.