McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

June 17, 2013

McAlester's Juneteenth celebration hosts picnic style comradery

By MJ Brickey
Staff Writer

McALESTER — More than 20 people turned out for ceremonies to celebrate Juneteenth, Saturday.

At 10 a.m., the  American Legion Post 250 color guard posted our nations colors under the picnic canopy at Michael J. Hunter Park at 14th Street and Chickasaw Avenue.

Rev. Barbara Smitherman led the crowd in prayer and then Mayor Steve Harrison read the city’s proclamation of June 15, 2013, as McAlester’s day to celebrate Juneteenth.

Harrison touched on the history of Juneteenth. He said the day is to celebrate June 19, 1865 — the day U.S. Army Major General Gordon Granger arrived — more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation — in Galveston, Texas, to deliver news that the Civil War had ended and all slaves were to be freed as of Jan. 1, 1863.

Pittsburg County Chapter of the NAACP president Miller Newman spoke and gave special recognition to McAlester Public Superintendent Marsha Gore saying she has made herself accessible to the community and is making a difference.

Newman also mentioned that during the Juneteenth celebration there will be membership drive for the NAACP as well as a drive for voter registration.

District 18 State Rep. Donnie Condit, D-McAlester was asked to speak and talked about growing up in McAlester. He also spoke of how Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom and is a celebration for all.

Rev. Donald E. Brown, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Rentiesville was scheduled to be the guest speaker, but was unable to attend.

Rev. Jerry Maddox gave the devotional and read passages from the Bible that boosted moral.

Rev. Donald E. Brown, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Rentiesville was the guest speaker - See more at: ceremonies closed, many people visited. Laughs and memories were overheard being shared about children’s  baseball games and sporting events.

As the crowd rumbled with camaraderie, Newman said he’d like to see more participation from younger generations from all cultures.

“Look around, all you see is us older folks,” Newman said. He went on to say over the years the Juneteenth celebration has hosted ball games and even inflatables. This year’s organizers asked participants to bring picnic items and cook-out at the park to have a day if family oriented fun.

Hot dogs, hamburgers, cold pop and bottled water were available for 25 to 50 cents.

As the day went on, people and families visited the park at various times in celebration of the Juneteenth holiday.

Contact MJ Brickey by email at

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