Juneteenth doesn’t officially arrive until Tuesday next week, but the celebrations are already under way in Brownwood with activities planned daily.
A soul food luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today at the Bennie Houston Community Center, sponsored by the Rufus F. Hardin Museum Inc. Cost is $6.50 a plate.
A host of events will be packed into a busy Saturday afternoon and evening at Cecil Holman Park, with activities scheduled for all ages. Booths, concessions and Kiddleland will open at noon, and free hot dogs and watermelon will be served from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. A softball game matching “old school vs. new school” is set for 5 p.m.
A BYOB Juneteenth dance at the Grand Starz Club, 2325 Belle Plain, will wrap up the Saturday schedule from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. Featured musicians will be 3 Peace and A Biscuit Band from Austin, and Randy Smith, formerly of Brownwood. Admission will be $15 per person at the door.
A church service in the park is scheduled from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday led by evangelists Patrick and Harriett Wilson. A talent and fashion show will begin at 5 p.m., and music will be provided.
On Monday, a free movie, “Madea Family Reunion,” and popcorn will be offered at 8 p.m.
A parade at 11 a.m. will begin events on Juneteenth itself.
Dr. David A. Williams, who retired from the Austin school district after teaching social studies for 22 years, will be the guest speaker at a 6:30 p.m. Tuesday dinner at Adams Street Community Center. Williams is executive director of the Southwest African-American Heritage Organization, and is a former history professor at Howard Payne University.
Juneteenth commemorates the day of June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, belatedly freeing 250,000 slaves in Texas. Even though it started as a Texas observance, its message of freedom has prompted the date to be celebrated in more than a dozen other states as well as several nations.