McAlester News-Capital

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 We all have an opportunity to learn and grow together as a community this week.

A Juneteenth Festival is schedule to start at 10 a.m. Saturday at McAlester's Michael J. Hunter Park with several fun, family-friendly and inclusive activities.

Get out to celebrate and learn from the speakers at the event.

If you can't make it, take time to learn about our nation's history, how we've grown, how we can promote unity, and let's all work to grow together.

Juneteenth, short for June 19, marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed.

Approximately 250,000 slaves in Texas were emancipated under the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln in April 1863.

The Emancipation Proclamation established that all enslaved people in Confederate states in rebellion against the Union were free.

But it didn’t instantly free all slaves because it only applied to places under Confederate control and not to slave-holding border states or rebel areas already under Union control.

In 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia, yet slavery remained in Texas.

Federal troops arrived in Texas at Galveston Bay on June 19, 1865 and U.S. General Gordon Granger read General Orders No. 3: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

Juneteenth originated the following year, when Freedmen organized "Jubilee Day" on June 19, 1866 with festivities including music, barbecues, prayer services and more.

Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday in 1979, and today, 47 states recognize the holiday.

Let's all recognize the day Saturday and take time to learn how we can all work toward ending racism and grow together.

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