JUNETEENTH : Mid-Mo remembers the end of slavery in the U.S.

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JEFFERSON CITY- Juneteenth brings communities together to honor the official ending of slavery in the U.S. One group in Jefferson City held a series of events to recognize the holiday.

Juneteenth-Jefferson City is a non- profit organization. The group started the Juneteenth celebration in 2000, and since then the celebration has grown.

"On June 19th, 1865, which was about two and a half years after President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The last visages of slaves were set free in Galveston, Texas," said Gwendolyn Edmonson, Juneteenth-Jefferson City vice president.

Many people believe the Emancipation Proclamation marked the ending of slavery in the United States, but history proves otherwise.

"When Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, all slaves were not set free at that time because some states had some contingencies on it," Edmonson said.

Edmonson said after slaves were set free, they celebrated June 19th as the freedom of the last slaves.

According to Juneteenth.com, General Granger read slaves General Order Number three that explained their new rights.

On the website it reads, "The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."

Seth Bauman, Juneteenth chair, said it is important for communities to have local celebrations.

"We bring the community together, but also we do get an education on the history of where we've been so we can better know where we want to go moving forward," Bauman said.

This year, the organization kicked off the Juneteenth celebration with a Father's Day Awards Banquet.

Next, the group hosted a Little Mister and Miss Juneteenth Pageant. Children ages 4-9 were invited to participate. They learned Juneteenth history and competed in the pageant for the King and Queen title.

Following that, the group held an Emancipation Program honoring men and women who have served, or are still serving in the military. The grand finale was the Juneteenth Heritage Festival. The community enjoyed a free family event that featured, entertainment, food, and education.

Tammy Nobles, Little Mister and Miss Juneteenth Pageant director, believes it's imperative for children to know this part in history. She said she's even had to explain to college students what Juneteenth celebrates.

"I believe that we have a systems problem. And it starts with education not just in our school's but also in our home, she said.

Shanika Lloyd, a mother who attended the events, said she feels it's her role as a parent to bring her children to Juneteenth events to help them learn and grow as future adults.

"I have three young boys, that are becoming men and I want to teach them how to become a man and not look for anyone else to show them guidance," she said.

Many people who are dedicated Juneteenth celebrators feel the holiday should receive as much recognition as the Fourth of July, especially by African Americans.

"It could just be promotion, it could be the fact that the minority community is a small portion of the population," Bauman said.

He said that the community could do a better job of spreading the word of events and celebrations that center around minority history.

"Maybe there's a schism between the minority community and the community at large, and if there is I think events like these can will help break those barriers down," he said.

Bauman also said understanding Juneteenth is an example of how people can come together and create a positive impact on others.

"I think that Juneteenth is a cognization of how great America could be in terms of the ability to make decisions, the ability to change society, and create a more inclusive society that embraced everybody's justice and freedom," Bauman said.

The 2019 Juneteenth Heritage Festival will be Saturday, June 15th in Jefferson City.

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