June 19th, 1865 or Juneteenth marks the day when enslaved Africans in Galveston were notified, they were free. That day now a federal holiday as of Thursday.
In the City of Killeen, a unanimous vote from the City Council denied the flag to be raised over city hall, last month. However, The Innovation Black Chamber of Commerce is not letting that denial interfere with their celebrations.
Just a few blocks from where they were told no, the IBCC says, yes. Flying the Juneteenth flag in front of their downtown office, they share with the Village United. The IBCC distributed 200 flags to attendees at the flag-raising.
Ronnie Russell, President of the innovation Black Chamber of Commerce said, On June 19th we were all free not in 1863, but in 1865."
Knowledge and uplift are at the heartbeat of Juneteenth celebrations that are now held across the country.
Russell said, "Education will always lead us into our future, not what happened in the past but the education that is going to be at the forefront of where we're going.
Bruce 'Tech' Whiteside, the President of Killeen Chapter Buffalo Soldiers said, "If you don't know where you came from, You don't really know where you're going. The Buffalo Soldiers were sent here in Texas to govern to make sure that the current party is the right thing."
Today's event, an acknowledgment of not black history but American history. The group took three laps around the block during the ceremony, each lap highlighting something different: seasons, harvest, and purpose.
President Biden declared Juneteenth a Federal Holiday on Thursday.
"I think it carries enough weight in order for people to go into search what Juneteenth is for those that never knew when it was about."
While a national holiday is appreciated Russell said the responsibility of keeping the meaning behind the holiday alive for generations to come falls on those who understand and recognize its importance.
There is still more work that needs to be done. The weight is on us to see how far we're going to carry."
Friday's flag-raising kicks off a week's worth of Juneteenth activities that will be held throughout the city and surrounding areas.