Walking in Freedom

Parade, Program Held to Celebrate Juneteenth

By Cheril Vernon

Messenger Copy Editor

CROCKETT – With the theme “Walking in Freedom,” the 32nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration was held Monday, June 19 with a parade and program in Crockett.

The parade kicked off in downtown Crockett, traveling around the Crockett square to Goliad Avenue and then to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, before finishing at the Groves Center. The parade featured Juneteenth Pageant participants and their escorts, as well as limousines, fire engines, horseback riders, cars, trucks, ATVs and motorcycles. The parade grand marshal was Deacon Gerald Colter of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.

The Juneteenth program started with the invocation and the song “Lift Every Voice.”  The program was held at the Groves Center grounds, attended by about 125 people of all ages.

“Juneteenth is the name for a holiday celebrating June 19, 1865, the day when Union soldiers arrived in Texas and spread the word that President Lincoln had delivered his Emancipation Proclamation. News traveled so slowly in those days that Texas did not hear of Lincoln’s Proclamation, which he gave on Jan. 1, 1863, until more than two years after it was issued,” Mary Allen Museum of African American Art & History Board President Jessyln Reese said during the Juneteenth reflections portion of the program.

In 1980, Texas proclaimed Emancipation Day (Juneteenth) an official state holiday.

“It is much more than a holiday. Juneteenth has become a day for African Americans to celebrate their freedom, culture and achievements. It is a day for all American to celebrate African American history and rejoice in their freedom,” Reese said.

Juneteenth also is a day of reflection, a day of renewal and a pride-filled day, Reese added.

Juneteenth is a day in which honor and respect is paid for the suffering of slavery. It is a day on which we acknowledge the evils of slavery and its aftermath. On Juneteenth we talk about our history and realize that because of it, there will forever be a bond between us. On Juneteenth we think about that moment in time when the enslaved in Galveston, Texas received word of their freedom. We imagine the depth of their emotions, their jubilant dance and their fear of the unknown,” Reese said.

James Gentry, executive director of the Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corp., read a proclamation from City of Crockett Mayor Joni Clonts declaring June 19 as Juneteenth Day.

Eloise D. Wooten, 77, was presented with a Women of Wisdom award. Wooten retired as an administrative secretary for the former Crockett State School. She is a long-time member of St. Luke Baptist Church. She has served her community in various ways over the years including on the city council and as an election voting judge. She and her husband have been married for 51 years. They have three children, as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Parade Grand Marshal Gerald Colter, a supervisor for the Texas Department of Transportation, also spoke during the Juneteenth ceremony. Colter is a 1985 graduate of Crockett High School and a 1988 graduate of Texas State Technical Institute. He serves as a deacon at Bethel Baptist Church, as well as teaching Bible studies and Sunday school classes. He and his wife have three children.

Colter said celebrating Juneteenth is one of the greatest contributions the community could make to its future and to their children.

Colter encouraged the Juneteenth organizers to continue to “keep the torch lit so that generations to come will know and understand” the significance of Juneteenth.

“Let us support our future, which is our children. Let us support our history, which is the Juneteenth celebration, and let us support unity, which is us being as one,” Colter said.

To the Juneteenth queen contestants and other youth, Colter encouraged them to “be all that you can be.”

“Our ancestors have paved the way, shedding blood, tears, and yes, some lost their lives,” Colter said. “Paul states it clearly in Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ To our youth, there is no ceiling that can hold you down if you place God first and keep yourself in His will.”

Community activist and Groves Foundation Vice President Billy “Hollywood” Groves gave a short talk about his mother entitled “Special Reflections: The Legacy of Sister Earlie Groves,” his mother.

Groves gave credit to the legacy of his mother for having the insight to buy the old Crockett school where the Groves Center now sits, adding his mother has been his inspiration over the years.

Groves encouraged the youth to “study the historical aspects of slavery.”

“Slavery wasn’t that long ago, even though we like to think of it as an antiquity, it was about 180 years ago. We have come a long way,” Groves said.

The participants in the annual Juneteenth Pageant, held on Thursday, also were recognized during the Juneteenth celebration including Miss Juneteenth Yasmin Jackson, Jr. Miss Juneteenth Icesyss Richardson and Jr. Miss Junteenth Runner-Up A’Christa Price

Juneteenth escorts and ushers included: Cristian Brice, usher; Toreyan Jones, Miss escort; Tyrian Colter, Jr. Miss escort; Jace Johnson, Jr. Miss escort; Javion Coleman, Sr. Little Miss escort; and Jayden Williams, Sr. Little Miss escort.

Little Miss Juneteenth participants included: Kiah Amos, Kaidence Beasley, A’Rihanna Good, Aunisti Johnson, Reagan Patterson, Serenity Wyatt, De’Asia Walker, Neffertitian Wooten and Erial Reifsteck.

Sr. Little Miss participants were Abigail Castro, Tania Davis, Brodeja Davis, Kiva Knox, A’miya Rhodes, Sha’Lasia Walker and Patreecia White.

The Juneteenth program concluded with prayer as the audience held hands and sang “We Shall Overcome.”

The Juneteenth Celebration is a cultural awareness project sponsored by the Groves Educational Foundation, a non-profit community organization. Dr. Ianthia Fisher served as coordinator, with Lynda Warfield serving as assistant coordinator.

By Cheril Vernon

Messenger Copy Editor

CROCKETT – With the theme “Walking in Freedom,” the 32nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration was held Monday, June 19 with a parade and program in Crockett.

The parade kicked off in downtown Crockett, traveling around the Crockett square to Goliad Avenue and then to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, before finishing at the Groves Center. The parade featured Juneteenth Pageant participants and their escorts, as well as limousines, fire engines, horseback riders, cars, trucks, ATVs and motorcycles. The parade grand marshal was Deacon Gerald Colter of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.

The Juneteenth program started with the invocation and the song “Lift Every Voice. The program was held at the Groves Center grounds, attended by about 125 people of all ages.

“Juneteenth is the name for a holiday celebrating June 19, 1865, the day when Union soldiers arrived in Texas and spread the word that President Lincoln had delivered his Emancipation Proclamation. News traveled so slowly in those days that Texas did not hear of Lincoln’s Proclamation, which he gave on Jan. 1, 1863, until more than two years after it was issued,” Mary Allen Museum of African American Art & History Board President Jessyln Reese said during the Juneteenth reflections portion of the program.

In 1980, Texas became the first state to proclaim Emancipation Day (Juneteenth) an official state holiday.

“It is much more than a holiday. Juneteenth has become a day for African Americans to celebrate their freedom, culture and achievements. It is a day for all American to celebrate African American history and rejoice in their freedom,” Reese said.

Juneteenth also is a day of reflection, a day of renewal and a pride-filled day, Reese added.

Juneteenth is a day in which honor and respect is paid for the suffering of slavery. It is a day on which we acknowledge the evils of slavery and its aftermath. On Juneteenth we talk about our history and realize that because of it, there will forever be a bond between us. On Juneteenth we think about that moment in time when the enslaved in Galveston, Texas received word of their freedom. We imagine the depth of their emotions, their jubilant dance and their fear of the unknown,” Reese said.

James Gentry, executive director of the Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corp., read a proclamation from City of Crockett Mayor Joni Clonts declaring June 19 as Juneteenth Day.

Eloise D. Wooten, 77, was presented with a Women of Wisdom award. Wooten retired as an administrative secretary for the former Crockett State School. She is a long-time member of St. Luke Baptist Church. She has served her community in various ways over the years including on the city council and as an election voting judge. She and her husband have been married for 51 years. They have three children, as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Parade Grand Marshal Gerald Colter, a supervisor for the Texas Department of Transportation, also spoke during the Juneteenth ceremony. Colter is a 1985 graduate of Crockett High School and a 1988 graduate of Texas State Technical Institute. He serves as a deacon at Bethel Baptist Church, as well as teaching Bible studies and Sunday school classes. He and his wife have three children.

Colter said celebrating Juneteenth is one of the greatest contributions the community could make to its future and to their children.

Colter encouraged the Juneteenth organizers to continue to “keep the torch lit so that generations to come will know and understand” the significance of Juneteenth.

“Let us support our future, which is our children. Let us support our history, which is the Juneteenth celebration, and let us support unity, which is us being as one,” Colter said.

To the Juneteenth queen contestants and other youth, Colter encouraged them to “be all that you can be.”

“Our ancestors have paved the way, shedding blood, tears, and yes, some lost their lives,” Colter said. “Paul states it clearly in Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ To our youth, there is no ceiling that can hold you down if you place God first and keep yourself in His will.”

Community activist and Groves Foundation Vice President Billy “Hollywood” Groves gave a short talk about his mother entitled “Special Reflections: The Legacy of Sister Earlie Groves,” his mother.

Groves gave credit to the legacy of his mother for having the insight to buy the old Crockett school where the Groves Center now sits, adding his mother has been his inspiration over the years.

Groves encouraged the youth to “study the historical aspects of slavery.”

“Slavery wasn’t that long ago, even though we like to think of it as an antiquity, it was about 180 years ago. We have come a long way,” Groves said.

The participants in the annual Juneteenth Pageant, held on Thursday, also were recognized during the Juneteenth celebration including Miss Juneteenth Yasmin Jackson, Jr. Miss Juneteenth Icesyss Richardson and Jr. Miss Junteenth Runner-Up A’Christa Price

Juneteenth escorts and ushers included: Cristian Brice, usher; Toreyan Jones, Miss escort; Tyrian Colter, Jr. Miss escort; Jace Johnson, Jr. Miss escort; Javion Coleman, Sr. Little Miss escort; and Jayden Williams, Sr. Little Miss escort.

Little Miss Juneteenth participants included: Kiah Amos, Kaidence Beasley, A’Rihanna Good, Aunisti Johnson, Reagan Patterson, Serenity Wyatt, De’Asia Walker, Neffertitian Wooten and Erial Reifsteck.

Sr. Little Miss participants were Abigail Castro, Tania Davis, Brodeja Davis, Kiva Knox, A’miya Rhodes, Sha’Lasia Walker and Patreecia White.

The Juneteenth program concluded with prayer as the audience held hands and sang “We Shall Overcome.”

The Juneteenth Celebration is a cultural awareness project sponsored by the Groves Educational Foundation, a non-profit community organization. Dr. Ianthia Fisher served as coordinator, with Lynda Warfield serving as assistant coordinator.