Troy commemorates Juneteenth

By Jordan Green

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TROY — Troy’s second annual Juneteenth Celebration took place on Saturday, June 18, at McKaig and Race Park.

The celebration followed a Juneteenth Walk from Brukner Park to McKaig that demonstrated the universal freedom Americans today enjoy.

The celebration opened with prayer and participants were asked to, “reach across the aisle, reach across the line, reach across the railroad tracks, and learn to love each other.”

Following the Christian rap stylings of Christ Jr., keynote speaker, Christine King, talked about her experience writing her new book.

“In 2020, I wanted to do something special for my father’s 60th birthday. I started interviewing his friends, and I realized, first of all, what a great man he is, and secondly, what a great community this is,” said King. “And I kept getting these pieces of my dad and I realized this is bigger than him.”

As King started writing her book, she internalized lessons taught through her interviews with community elders and took the time to share some of them on Saturday.

“They would tell a story and say, ‘Don’t put that in there,’ and I realized not everything is for everybody,” said King.

She also noted that “sometimes I would say something, and they would say, ‘How are you gonna tell me?’ and I realized that sometimes you just need to shut up and listen.”

Tying back to Juneteenth and her struggles writing her book she noted, “I may not relate to being a slave, but I can relate to overcoming challenges.”

King’s speech was met with applause and was followed by the Dayton group the LYD Band.

Organizers for the event had nothing but praise for the way it turned out.

“It is going great so far. A good crowd, wonderful weather, and great entertainment. We have been able to build off last year’s celebration and all of the volunteers from I.D.E.A. and Juneteenth Troy have been great and deserve all the credit for this amazing event,” said Janine Sadler, the president of I.D.E.A. Troy.

Participants at the celebration were treated with a cookout — common amongst Juneteenth celebrations — and over 30 vendors and local groups were out giving information and goodie bags. Traditional tea cakes provided by Bakehouse Troy were also provided.

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 Granger’s Proclamation, on Dec. 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.