How people celebrated Juneteenth’s first federal holiday recognition in Central Texas

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Festivals, parades and plenty of fun were on the agenda for Central Texas on Saturday to mark Juneteenth.

The sounds of freedom rang out in east Austin’s Rosewood Park.

“In order to teach the future generation about Juneteenth, we have to be the storytellers,” said LaTisha Anderson, Austin Independent School District Place 1 board member. “I want my city, my state to recognize that Black history, Juneteenth, is American history.”

The story and the celebration of the emancipation of Black Americans has long been a regional holiday largely celebrated in Texas, the first state to formally recognize it in 1980.

“As the only African American on the Austin ISD school board, it is important for me to be here celebrating my community,” said Anderson.

The festival started at noon Saturday and ran until 5 p.m., which was followed by an evening of live music.

“There’s a big crowd going on out here, lots of different people. I’ve really enjoyed seeing it,” said Rusell Holler.

For Holler, the day is about inclusion for his 6-year-old son.

“My son Jonas, we adopted him about two years ago — he’s Black,” said Holler. “We want to make sure he knows that he is celebrated, that this is a point of celebration and not just a throw-away holiday.”

Juneteenth ATX has an entire program of events, including a live stream running through the afternoon highlighting the history of the day, and fireworks in the evening.

Good food and good music will be on hand for visitors at the Round Rock Juneteenth Rhythm and Ribs Festival.

Taking place in Old Settlers Park from 4 p.m. until late, DJ Jay Shalé, Eric Bellinger and Montell Jordan lead the musical lineup. The event will also include specialty food and retail vendors.

Travis County hosted two community events, including a family park day at East Metro Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The county also gave young basketball players a chance to showcase their skills at the Rising Stars High School All-Star boys and girls games, where athletes will take part in three-point shooting and slam dunk contests.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

The celebration falls on June 19, marking the day Texans were told the Civil War was over, and enslaved people were free.

The most recent holiday to be recognized was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It took nearly two decades for the day to be celebrated in all 50 states.

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