The Juneteenth program began at ten in the morning. Mrs. Adams began the program with an opening prayer. Her words were wise, heartfelt, and a fitting start to our annual celebration. I followed Mrs. Adams. I welcomed everyone and introduced “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is also known as the Negro National Anthem. Unfortunately, for me, (but fortunately for anyone who is looking for a good laugh), there might be a few videos floating around Facebook of me singing. All that can be said is that I did my best. While I might not be the best singer, the lyrics to “Life Every Voice and Sing” are some of my favorite, and I am happy that we were able to share this beautiful song with those who might not have heard it before.
Following the welcome, we felt it was necessary to explain what Juneteenth is, so my niece Windy Goodloe talked about the history of Juneteenth. After the explanation for Juneteenth was given, Mr. Albert Nofi read General Order No. 3, which is also known as the Texas Emancipation Proclamation. We appreciate him giving such a moving reading of this important historical document.
One of the most important Juneteenth traditions involves the food that was traditionally eaten. Red food was most commonly consumed because crimson is a symbol of ingenuity and resilience in bondage. To give everyone a little taste of this tradition, we gave everyone a cup of Big Red and some strawberries to snack while they learned about this rich food tradition.
Next, we opened the floor to our guests who wanted to make remarks. First, I got up and spoke. Then, Beverly Kelly spoke about her memories of previous Juneteenths. Mary Vasquez-Gamble spoke about her memories as well. Finally, Jon Arnold, the military and veterans’ affairs liaison for U.S. Representative Will Hurd, introduced himself and his family and talked about his Juneteenth experiences.
Lastly, Windy Goodloe led a group recitation of Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.” From here, we took the program outside, where as we thanked and remembered those who came before us, before we released balloons.
Following the conclusion of the program, several of our Juneteenth celebration attendees toured our Seminole Negro Indian Scout Museum. Also, several members of the Pierce family, who were celebrating their family reunion, congregated at the school. This is the second year that we’ve been able to celebrate Juneteenth with this beautiful family of Seminole Negro Indian Scout descendants.
The barbecue plate sale went better than expected. Many of those who bought plates, instead of leaving, decided to eat at the school, so many of us stayed at the school well into the evening, enjoying each other, laughing, reminiscing, and just being grateful for a day well-spent.
Note: This blog appeared as an article in the 6/22/17 edition of the Kinney County Post.