Juneteenth is an annual recognition of June 19, 1865, when slaves in Texas discovered they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier. The proclamation said:
|“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.” — General Orders, Number 3 ; Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865|
|On Saturday, June 15, 2019, a re-enactment of an old-fashioned camp meeting and baptism was held at Huntsville’s Big Spring Park, focusing on the role of faith and spirituality in the African-American community. Four people were baptized at the original baptismal site of St. Bartley’s Primitive Baptist Church, the oldest black congregation in Alabama. Hundreds attended the Juneteenth celebration, and enjoyed gospel music and a hot meal.|
“Unity is our theme, so it is exciting to see the community embrace this,” said William Hampton, board member of Completing the Story , a group devoted to sharing the story of Huntsville’s African American community.
On Sunday, June 16, at the corner of Holmes Avenue and Church Street, the Church Street Historic Marker was unveiled at the corner of Church Street and Holmes Avenue, c elebrating the historic corridor of the African American business district. During the opening ceremony of Juneteenth: A Festival of Voices, several Oakwoodites participated in the parade of flags, including Raymond King, director of Student Activities, and Debbe Millet, staff member in Integrated Marketing & Public Relations. Actors in period costume portrayed Huntsville-Madison County citizens who lived during the 19th and 20th Century.