United We Stand
By Will Johnson
CROCKETT – A day of festivities and revelry was held on Tuesday, June 19 in Crockett as area residents gathered for the 33rd Annual Juneteenth Celebration. This year’s theme was “United We Stand” and the Grand Marshall was for the event was long-time Crockett resident Lynda Warfield.
“Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. The date of June 19, 1865 marks the day word of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached the state of Texas. It was close to two and a half years after the U.S. abolishment of slavery in 1863, when Union Gen. Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation from a balcony in Galveston and African Americans in Texas w
ere finally freed. Since then, the date has become an international day of celebration and was officially declared a state holiday in 1980,” according to the website www.juneteenth .com.
The Tuesday morning festivities kicked off with a parade through downtown Crockett which wound its way around the square and down Goliad Ave. to Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. It traversed up MLK and through the Pine Ridge Manor (Prince Hall) neighborhood before finishing up at the Groves Center. The parade honored Women of Wisdom showcased the Miss Juneteenth, Junior Miss Juneteenth, the Little Miss Juneteenth, the Senior Little Miss Juneteenth and their escorts. It was filled with limousines, fire engines, floats, cars, trucks, a motorcycle and a horse back rider.
The year’s Miss Juneteenth is Aaliyah Price while Tierra Dupree was runner-up.
This year’s Junior Miss Juneteenth is Tania Davis. A’Miya Rhodes was named as runner-up. Other contestants included A’Christa Price, who was named Miss Congeniality, along with Abigail Castro and Jada Jones.
Once the parade reached its destination at the Groves Center, the formal ceremonies began. Dr. Ianthia Fisher, who helped coordinate the event, welcomed all of those in attendance.
The Groves Educational Foundation Board is made up of: Dr. Helen King, CEO; Dr. Ianthia Fisher COO; Dr. Brenda Atchison, President; Dr. Ruth Groves Watson, Vice President; Billy Groves, Vice President; Victoria Essence, Secretary; and Rev. Oscar Henderson, Chaplain.
Following the welcome and introductions, the crowd came together as one to sing the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The song contains a very appropriate verse for the day’s festivities which says, “We have come over a way that with tears have been watered, we have come treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.”
Upon the conclusion of the song, Walter Session provided the audience with reflections of Juneteenth and was followed by Houston County County Attorney Daphne Session.
The county attorney read a proclamation from City of Crockett Mayor Joni Clonts declaring June 19 as Juneteenth Day.
The proclamation read, in part, “And whereas, Juneteenth today celebrates African-American freedom while encouraging self-development and respect for all cultures as it takes on a more national and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing.”
“And whereas,” the proclamation continued, “the 19th day of June, commonly called Juneteenth, became a statewide holiday in Jan. 1980 through the efforts of Al Edwards, an African-American state legislator. Rep. Edwards has since actively sought to spread the observance of Juneteenth all across America. Now therefore, I, Joni K. Clonts, mayor of the city of Crockett, by virtue of the legal authority vested in me, do by officially proclaim the day of June 19, 2018 as Juneteenth Day.”
After the proclamation was read, Dr. Fisher called on the audience to pause for a moment and reflect on the meaning of freedom, which Juneteenth stands for. She next began the introductions of the “Women of Wisdom.”
“This is a very important part of our program because without them, there would not be us. Each year we have taken a category during the pageant where we honor the Women of Wisdom. We do not select the, we allow you to select them. Anyone can sponsor a Woman of Wisdom, but they have to be at least 55 or above,” Fisher said.
This year’s Women of Wisdom are: Carrie Johnson; Theresa Colter; Margaret Lewis; and Jessi Strong.
Following the recognition of the Women of Wisdom and the introduction of the Juneteenth pageant participants, the parade and event’s Grand Marshal – Lynda Warfield – was next to speak. She thanked those in attendance as well
as the people who had worked so hard to organize this year’s event.
“It is an honor to be here today. What I’m going to speak about is tradition. We need to get back to our traditional way of doing things. If it wasn’t for tradition, we wouldn’t be doing this today,” Warfield said.
“We need to get back to teaching our children about education but before we do that, we need to teach them about God. God is the most important thing and if we have God in our lives we have everything we need,” she said.
Warfield added parents should be the ones who tell their children what to do and not the other way around.
“As parents, if you go to church and leave your children at home – we need our children by our side. It takes more than one person to raise a kid. It takes all of us. If you see a child out there and you say ‘I can’t do anything,’ yes you can. If you can’t do anything, fall on your knees and ask God to help you,” she concluded.
The ceremony came to a close with the audience joining hands and singing, “We Shall Overcome.”
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.