Hundreds of people came out to the Sherman Municipal Building grounds to celebrate Juneteenth. The holiday is an officially recognized state holiday commemorating the estimated 200,000 slaves in Texas who found out they had been freed nearly three years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
This year’s activities, sponsored by the Neighborhood Recreation Unity in the Community committee, included live bands, vendors selling food and other items as well as entertainment for children.
“Our committee wants to promote unity in the community and let everyone know this is not just a holiday for Black Americans it is a holiday for all Americans,” Neighborhood Recreation Unity in the Community President John Goodman said about the growth of the festival each year. “We should all be celebrating together. We celebrate Memorial Day together. We celebrate July 4 together so we should be able to celebrate Juneteenth together as well.”
Goodman said having the event downtown has helped spread the word about the event.
“I have had a few people come up and ask me to explain what Juneteenth is and what it means,” Goodman said. “I explain it to them what it means today. People are naturally inquisitive and they come to see what is going on and when they feel the vibe they want to stay.”
He said the celebration is held every year on Father’s Day weekend rather than having it on June 19 because having it on the weekend helps people get out to it.
“It’s a day of freedom so we’re giving everything away free,” Gap Crew Motorcycle Club President Charles Les Andrews said. “We do this every year. We love being in the community. Everybody is doing great. Kids are smiling and happy. We’re just enjoying the great day. Since Texas was the last one on information on being free, we’re here today to celebrate that. Not just for us but the entire country. Remember bikers we do good things too. Sometimes we get a bad rep but we’re here to remind people we’re part of this community and we want to do good things for everybody.”
The organization was giving away free school supplies to everyone who stopped by its booth.
“We’re one big happy family,” Sherman City Council member Daron Holland said of the people celebrating the holiday. “That is what Sherman is all about we accept all cultures. We have a new cultural district we are starting here in Sherman and this helps kick it all off. It says a lot how we all support each other.”
He said the event is important for kids to understand the struggle people went through to get to where they are today.
“The struggle is here,” Holland said. “We have to continue to make things better for people, especially for the younger kids. With the leadership we have here in Sherman, there is no limit.”
Charles H. Brown Sr. moved to Texas from West Virginia in 1984. He said there people were having Juneteenth celebrations and he had no idea what it was. Now, he said it’s a great day to celebrate being free. He said the word is spreading not just the holiday but the local celebrations. He said it is good for kids to know what it is all about.
“People come together they want to worship, they want to make it right so we’re all here together as one big bunch making it work. The atmosphere has been pretty good.”
Richard A. Todd is the Denison area reporter. He can be reached at RTodd@HeraldDemocrat.com.