The local celebration of Juneteenth will begin Friday with a soul food luncheon and continue with daily events until a parade and banquet Tuesday wrap up the observance next week.
The majority of the events will be packed into a busy Saturday afternoon and evening at Cecil Holman Park, with activities scheduled for all ages. But the lasting significance of the celebration will be the focus of the banquet on the evening of 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 the 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.
On Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., a soul food luncheon will be sponsored by the Rufus F. Hardin Museum Inc. at the Bennie Houston Community Center. Cost is $6.50 a plate. Later that day, from 6 p.m. until midnight, a Gospel Fest is scheduled at Cecil Holman park. Concessions will be open.
On Saturday, booths, concessions and Kiddleland will open at noon at the park. Free hotdogs 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 dance featuring Randall Smith, formerly of Brownwood, 3 Piece and A Biscuit from Austin will be held from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m.
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.
On Juneteenth, Tuesday, the parade will begin at 11 a.m., and entries are asked to line-up an hour in advance. The banquet at Adams Street Community Center will conclude the schedule at 6:30 p.m.