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"I think it was long overdue," Brazos Valley residents reflect on Juneteenth becoming federal holiday

Posted at 4:34 PM, Jun 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-18 19:23:29-04

BRYAN, TEXAS — On June 17, President Biden signed into law the 'Juneteenth National Independence Day Act', establishing June 19th as a federal holiday.

Juneteenth is a day recognizing the ending of slavery in the United States.

For Brazos Valley resident Jerry Johnson, says, the decision to make Juneteenth a legal public holiday, was something years in the making.

"I think it was long overdue. I think it's a way to kind of make some of the wrong back then maybe feel right today... Making this a federal holiday," Johnson said.

And Johnson says it's important to keep events commemorating Juneteenth going.

"Let a lot of the younger generation know the history of what we went through as a race to where we are today, and I think it's important we keep this going," Johnson added.

Another Brazos Valley resident, James Hawkins, says, he's recognized this day for as long as he can remember, and seeing it receive federal recognition was huge.

"I have been celebrating Juneteenth since I was a little kid. It used to be a big day," Hawkins said.

Hawkins says before, not everyone knew about Juneteenth, but now they do... something he says people should be proud of.

"It's something we should be proud of. It shouldn't be something that nobody should be ashamed of Juneteenth. History is what it is and this is history," Hawkins said.

Hawkins says he hopes more and more younger people will participate in events celebrating the day, including one he's a part of organizing each year.

"We are getting older now. We are going to be out of here pretty soon. Somebody gotta keep the torch going," Hawkins added.

According to Destination Bryan's Facebook Page, "The Brazos Valley African American Heritage And Cultural Society are excited to invite you to participate in their Juneteenth festivities in Bryan, Texas! The celebration will kick off with the Juneteenth Parade beginning at 1401 West Martin Luther King Jr. Street at 10:00 AM, working their way to Sadie Thomas Memorial Park. More festivities will take place at the end of the parade route at Sadie Thomas Memorial Park. The celebration continues with Blues Fest, featuring Hard 2 Find, from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM at the Palace Theater in Historic Downtown Bryan!"

Destination Bryan also says the Brazos Valley African American Museum will be open with free admission on Saturday, June 19th.

"We cannot rest until the promise of equality is fulfilled — for every one of us, in every corner of this nation. That is the meaning of Juneteenth," President Biden tweeted Thursday afternoon.