Juneteenth returns this weekend

TROY — Troy will be holding its second annual Juneteenth Walk and Celebration on Saturday, June 18.

The lineup for the walk begins at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Brukner Park behind the Troy-Miami County Public Library, located at 419 W. Main Street, Troy. Lineup will continue until 3:30 p.m. when it will leave for McKaig and Race Park, located at 822 Mckaig Avenue, Troy. The walk is less than 10 blocks and goes at a slow pace. All are welcome with no registration.

“The walk shows that freedom is universal. Through our community, we can show that we are able to collectively enjoy and embrace freedom,” said Sonia Holycross of the Troy Human Relations Commission.

The walkers will arrive at 4 p.m. for the kickoff of the Juneteenth Celebration. Keynote speaker, Christine King, will begin the celebrations followed by the Dayton group The LYD Band.

The Juneteenth celebration will feature the traditional cookout with local community members grilling hotdogs and hamburgers from Haren’s Market. Food is free to the public, but there will be vendors selling food as well.

There will be 31 booths handing out goodie bags, informational pamphlets, and literacy books regarding Juneteenth. In addition, there will be marching band performances, a Kona Ice station, and traditional Tea Cakes provided by Bakehouse of Troy.

“When this first started in Texas back in the 1800s, there was a sense of collectiveness around the celebrations. We want to model that collectiveness here. It takes all of us to ensure that we are free,” said Holycross.

Holycross also added, “It is all about the community. If anyone is interested in participating or helping out, please don’t hesitate to contact the Troy Human Relations Committee.”

Festivities will wrap up around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 18. Every member of the community is invited to participate.

Juneteenth is a federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved peoples in the United States. It coincides with the date of Union General, Gordon Granger, issuing a proclamation on June 19, 1865, to the remote areas of Texas, where slavery was still being practiced, that enslaved people were free.

This was nearly two years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that freed all slaves in the Confederacy. Shortly after Gordon’s Proclamation, on December 18, 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified and adopted as part of the U.S. Constitution and slavery was entirely abolished in the United States (except as a form of punishment).

Celebrations of Juneteenth date back to 1866 and originated in Galveston, Texas (an island city near Houston, Texas) where General Gordon issued his proclamation. It has been recognized as a holiday by nearly every state since then and became a federal holiday on June 17, 2021, upon President Joe Biden’s signing of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.