EDITORIAL: Commemorating Juneteenth

·2 min read

Jun. 16—A celebration on Saturday offers fun with opening of a renovated park and time to reflect on a national holiday.

McAlester's Juneteenth Celebration is set to kick-off at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 18, at the city's renovated Michael J. Hunter Park, which is named after the city's first native to die in combat during the Vietnam War.

Several improvements have been made to the park with a new splash pad, picnic tables, a playground, pickleball courts, and much more.

The event will also host the dedication of a mural being painted by local artist Ernest Russell in honor of Hunter.

Lots of fun activities are planned for the event to dedicate the park and commemorate Juneteenth.

Juneteenth commemorates when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed.

Approximately 250,000 slaves in Texas were emancipated under the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in April 1863 to emancipate all enslaved people in Confederate states in rebellion against the Union — including about 250,000 slaves in Texas.

But it didn't instantly free all slaves because it only applied to places under Confederate control and not to slave-holding border states or rebel areas already under Union control.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered in 1865 at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia, yet slavery remained in Texas.

Federal troops arrived in Texas at Galveston Bay on June 19, 1865 and U.S. General Gordon Granger read General Orders No. 3: "The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free."

Let's all take time on Juneteenth to reflect on how far our country has come since then, and how we can all work together toward future growth and ending racism.

—McAlester News-Capital Editorial Board