Annual Juneteenth celebration coming to Douglass Park on Saturday

Friday, June 20, 2008 | 4:46 p.m. CDT; updated 6:50 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — Saturday marks the first day of summer and Columbia’s annual celebration of Juneteenth.

Hosted by Columbia Parks and Recreation, the event will take place in Douglass Park from 2 to 8 p.m. and is free to the public.

If you go

The Juneteenth celebration will be held from 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday in Douglass Park. The two bands featured at the celebration, Big Babe Martin and the Chump Change Band, are scheduled to perform at 4 p.m.

The celebration will include performances from bands, speakers, games and food.

Bill Thompson, who is organizing the event, says he hopes to see a few hundred people attend.

“(We) are trying to get more positive activity in Douglass Park,” Thompson said.

Also among the events planned is a 30-and-older talent show. Thompson said he wants to get parents out in addition to young people to show what the old community is made of.

Thompson said he expects the peak of the event to be the music performances. The two bands featured at the celebration will be Big Babe Martin and the Chump Change Band. They will perform at about 4 p.m.

The event was originally scheduled for June 14 and 15 but was rescheduled for a church that wanted to host an event in the park the same weekend.

Juneteenth is an event that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. It is the oldest celebrated commemoration that is nationally recognized. Dating back to June 19, 1865, Juneteenth originated in Galveston, Texas.

In 1865, Union troops led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, where they received news that the Civil War had ended and slaves were free. The troops’ arrival in Texas finally allowed proper policing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which previously had little impact in the state.

The next event scheduled by Parks and Recreation for Douglass Park is a park day, held on July 19. Following that will be a Jonnie Marie Cooper memorial talent show, tentatively scheduled for Aug. 9 and 10.

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