The news would still be good, although some might think about what they could have done had they known.
Slaves in Galveston, Texas experienced delayed gratification firsthand when they received news of their freedom June 19, 1865, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which became official Jan. 1, 1863.
After the initial surprise, the news brought jubilation and celebration.
The event is the basis of the Juneteenth celebration and June 19 is known as Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery.
Traditionally, Juneteenth festivities include speakers, entertainment, food, education and self-improvement.
Much of this will be incorporated locally in Saturday’s Third Annual Juneteenth Festival, sponsored by the BEHE (Black Educational History Exhibit), the City of Douglasville and Douglas County government.
The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in downtown Douglasville and at the old Courthouse Museum and is free to the public.
Douglasville City Councilman Sam Davis, chair of the festival, and Douglas County Commissioner Henry Mitchell III, cochair, recently sat down to talk about Juneteenth from a historical standpoint and detailed plans for Saturday’s events.
“If you go back in history in 1863, when those individuals who were enslaved didn’t realize they were free until two years later, I think it’s important to Douglas County, that people here know what is going on in their community,” Mitchell said. “If the people in Galveston had known they were free, they could’ve been doing everything that people in other communities were doing.”
Mitchell called the event historic and educational, “important for our kids to understand.”
“It’s a part of history, and I think it’s important for us as citizens to celebrate,” he said.
Both men spoke of the diversity of the Juneteenth celebration here and the support it has received from every segment of the community.
“As chairperson, I want to thank the city, county, participants and all the sponsors,” he said. “It’s a blessing to be able to come together to work as a whole body of people to pull this off.”
More than 30 vendors will be displaying and selling arts, crafts and other goods.
A Senior Bingo will be hosted by V-103 radio personality Larry Tinsley, one of many celebrities expected at the event. Also on hand will be a live performance from Praise 102.5 host Darlene McCoy, Praise 102.5 host Cory “CoCo Brother” Condrey, jazz musician Myrna Clayton and her small orchestra, and other national artists and special invited guests, the men said, along with local gospel choirs.
A health screening will be hosted by WellStar Douglas, and a driving simulator will be provided by Douglas County Sheriff Phil Miller for those interested in participating.
There will also be voter registration, information booths and activities for children, including storytelling, moon walker bounce and others.
Souvenir commemorative T-shirts will be on sale.
“It is a wholesome event for the entire family,” Mitchell said.
“A family affair,” said Davis.
“And it’s free,” Mitchell said.