It was a fun and education packed weekend as the city of Natchitoches celebrated Juneteenth, June 17-18. Juneteenth commemorates the day on June 19, 1865, on which Union forces under General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas. One of the General’s first actions was to issue his famous General Order Number 3 which stated in part:
“…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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection therefore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer….”
The weekend of events began with a breakfast event at a local restaurant in which Mayor Williams spoke and introduced LSMSA instructor, Dr. Jason Anderson, who spoke on the history of the holiday and the necessity of educating the younger generation on its importance.
The day’s events continued with a daylong basketball tournament held at Natchitoches Junior High. The tournament featured boy’s and girl’s youth teams from the city recreational league who battled eagerly for bragging rights. The evening culminated in the eagerly awaited “Celebrity Game” between the maroon and purple teams that were comprised of Mayor Williams, NCHS Principal Coleman, Lakeview Basketball Coach Williams, District Attorney Harrington and a variety of community leaders. The planned first responders’ game between the fire. police and sheriff’s departments had to be cancelled as the fire department was called to fight a residential fire shortly before tipoff. In fact, many of the firefighters wore their basketball uniforms under their bunker gear as they fought the fire a few blocks away.
On the first Juneteenth, a little over two months after the surrender of Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox doomed the Confederacy, General Granger and his troops fulfilled the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. The Stars and Stripes once more flew from every corner of this nation. The Confederacy was crushed and the evil of slavery driven from our country. It is indeed a day worthy of remembrance and celebration!
The Natchitoches Parish Journal would like to commend all of the men and women who worked diligently to bring about this celebration. It was a delightful weekend, and we are looking forward to next year’s event!