COLUMBIA — Columbia's Juneteenth celebration Saturday afternoon at Douglass Park was a commemoration of African-American freedom and heritage.
"Juneteenth dates back to 1865, when the news that slaves had been freed came to Galveston, Texas," said Addae Achmad, a Juneteenth organization committee member.
On that day, Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Texas and read the Emancipation Proclamation two years after President Lincoln issued the orders in 1863, according to the Juneteenth Web site. The current-day annual celebration stems from the jubilation of the freed slaves upon hearing the news.
"Many people here think of Juneteenth as a 'Texas concept,'" said Minister Larry McBride of Chosen Generation Ministries. McBride said that the celebrations are larger in Texas, where Juneteenth originated. The holiday is celebrated nationwide, though, to emphasize the importance of African-American freedom and history.
In Columbia, many of the exhibits focused on local history, including the lives of ragtime musician John William "Blind" Boone and Tom Bass, a world-class horse trainer from Mexico, Mo. Also featured was a pictorial history of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, an African-American institution founded in 1866.
Entertainment during the event included gospel songs, balloons, horseshoes and barbecue.
Christy Gladney and her mother drove from Arkansas to attend the Juneteenth festivities around Missouri.
"Douglass Park is, like, everybody's hangout," Gladney said. "I'm having a great time, except for the heat."
Achmad said he looks forward to a bright future for Columbia's Juneteenth celebration.
"We hope to expand, maybe add a parade and publicize more so there's more vendors," Achmad said. "Juneteenth is about information and education."