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Lubbock kicks off Juneteenth celebration at East Lubbock Art House

Earlier in the day, the Texas holiday earned federal status
Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 12:58 AM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed a declaration designating Juneteenth the 12th federal holiday.

It commemorates the day in 1865, when word reached Texas that President Lincoln made slavery illegal.

It was more than two years after he gave the emancipation proclamation.

This is the first national holiday established since President Reagan recognized Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.

“Great nations don’t ignore the most painful moments. They don’t ignore those moments in the past. They embrace them. Great nations don’t walk away. We come to terms with the mistakes we made. In remembering those moments, we begin to heal,” President Biden said.

It may have new national recognition, but those in Lubbock who have celebrated the holiday their entire lives say it’s about time the country caught up to speed.

“If we celebrate the Fourth of July, why don’t we celebrate what freedom actually means,” founder of East Lubbock Art House Danielle East said. “In 1776 you can’t have a Declaration of Independence written by really educated men that states that ‘we’re free’ when you actually have slaves in your backyard.”

“It’s long overdue, but I think the plus side of that and a positive side is that there are people, you know, that are willing to change,” Lubbock native Alexander Johns said.

Freedom Festival at the ELAH began Thursday with live performances, vendors, arts and crafts, free food and more, kicking off a weekend of events for Juneteenth.

Johns, a rapper who’s stage name is “Aye1ayee,” says to him, the holiday means a celebration of Black excellence, heritage and community.

“It’s always been, since I was a kid, a special time of the year. Unlike any other time of the year,” he said.

This is the first time the celebration in Lubbock is taking place at the East Lubbock Art House.

East says the meaning of the holiday is just as important as observing it.

“It’s a holiday that didn’t have to happen, but it’s really important for us to recognize history. It’s nothing new. It just, recognizes liberation and not only freedom, but what we’ve been through,” she said.

“This is the one time of year that all the Black people would come together. A lot of times, there wouldn’t be a lot of drama, it would be a lot of love,” Johns said.

On Friday, there will be an all day celebration at the Art House again from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m, at MLK, Jr. Blvd and East 5th Street.

Then, on the day of Juneteenth this Saturday, there will be another community-wide event at Mackenzie Park.

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