The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863, but many African Americans did not immediately feel the effects of Lincoln’s famous declaration. Two and half years later, on June 19, 1865, Union troops entered Galvaston, Texas, enforcing the freeing of slaves in the South. The oldest national holiday commemorating the end of slavery, Juneteenth has been celebrated for almost 150 years.
However, Juneteenth wasn’t celebrated in Franklin until last year.
“This was something that had been brought up for a couple of years, but we had not actually celebrated it,” said Alma McLemore, co-vice chair and special events coordinator for the Williamson County African American Heritage Society. “We decided to make it an annual event to commemorate and educate people today on what this celebration is all about.”
This Saturday, the second annual Juneteenth celebration will take place at the McLemore House Museum, which was originally built by a former slave in the 1880s.
“Williamson County has its own rich history of events related to slavery with one of the bloodiest battles of the civil war being fought here,” said McLemore. “Many slaves and slave owners have generations who are still living here.”
At the celebration, senior residents of Williamson County will share stories told to them by their parents and grandparents, and historian Rick Warrick and author Robert Hicks will discuss how their books tie in to the event. There will also be gospel singing, games for children and adults, and door prizes given away every hour.
Free hotdogs will be available for kids, and vendors will be selling old-time favorites such as fish and chicken. The signature drink strawberry soda will also be available.
The Juneteenth celebration lasts from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 17. For more information, contact McLemore at 791-1294 or via e-mail.
“This event will be just be a day of simple fun, education, fellowship, music, food and games,” McLemore said.