Juneteenth celebrations growing beyond Texas
By Anjelicia Bruton
Texas might have been the last state to get the news about the abolishment of slavery, but there is almost no match for how grand the state celebrates what amounts to its emancipation day.
So much so that other states around the country seemingly are trying to follow the lead of the lone star state — all in the name of awakening Black consciousness. Tallahassee is no exception, as a planned Juneteenth event is being publicized with much fanfare.
There are several other Juneteenth celebrations taking place this Sunday. But it’s clear that they want to emulate what has made the freedom celebration in Texas such a grand event. The week-long festivities throughout the state include parades and concerts.
“There’s always someone from some area calling,” said Samuel Collins III, who heads up the Texas festivities. “Every year, seems like a different state and location every time are looking to enhance their celebration to see what we’re doing here.”
Collins hasn’t gotten a call from Tallahassee, but plans are underway nonetheless to celebrate Juneteenth here. The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. will put on a celebration in the form of a talent hunt competition that will take place Friday at the auditorium inside FAMU’s College of Pharmacy.
Participants in the event will represent high schools in the Big Bend area. At stake will be cash prizes. The grand prize winner will represent Tallahassee at a state-level competition in Orlando.
While the fraternity has been staging the talent hunt for more than 50 years, this is the first time it’s theme ties in with Juneteenth, said Chazmen Geames, chair of the Tallahassee Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
“We realized that Tallahassee doesn’t do a lot for Juneteenth. Since Omega Psi Phi is a predominantly African American fraternity we found it to be viably important that our students and parents are aware. We are already doing the Tally Hunt program and people know about the event and now we can teach them about Juneteenth.”
Juneteenth celebrates the Union troops entering Texas ending slavery June 19, 1865. President Abraham Lincoln’s initial proclamation declared slaves free Sept. 22, 1862 but was put into effect the first day of the following year. It took three years after the proclamation before slavery was abolished in Texas.
While there is a trend to mark Juneteenth with festive activities, not everyone will celebrate the day that way. Titus Brown, a Tallahassee resident, will keep it simple.
“I will visit some of the culture centers that will celebrate or a museum that will be taking part and any other community activities,” said Brown, who suggested that Juneteenth celebrations are spreading due to the migration of slaves.
“African Americans, when they migrated with the great migration during World War I took those celebrations with them to various parts of the country where they went,” Brown said.
Brown plans on taking part in upcoming festivities that the community they offer.