This year marks the third year that residents in and around the Breezy Hill Park in south Terrell gathered together to celebrate Juneteenth, an American holiday that celebrates the abolition of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865.
Citizens like 81-year-old Ruby Blankes said that she brought her family, especially kids, to the Juneteenth event in an effort to teach and share history and reflect on the past.
“We’re bringing the little ones out and showing them what we do. And showing them that … it’s something special that we’ve had on June 19th. I think it’s going to help young people realize how far we’ve come and how important it is for them to help carry this on,” said Blankes.
During the event, children ran and played throughout the park on playground equipment, others played basketball, and many chose to stay out of the sun and spend time cooling off under the pavilion.
Live music from a local DJ played on loudspeakers in the background as people talked to each other and got to know one another from the community and bond with friends and family.
James Williams said that the Juneteenth celebration means a lot to him and should mean a lot to others.
“There’s no part in history that we didn’t play a part. So, we’ve come to celebrate the fact that we’re free. We fought for America when we were slaves. We fought bravely. We did this and we were not recognized. So this is a day that we can feel good about. This is a way that we can come back and show our kids that … we’re the reason why America is great. We want to let our people know that we have history too and we have a lot to be proud of,” said Williams.
Breezy Hill Park Association President Leonard Lancaster said that holding events like the Juneteenth celebration is critical to the further development and uplifting of the park and the community around it.
“This is a part of our heritage. Juneteenth should be special to anyone of color because we know the reason why we celebrate,” said Lancaster. “This is one way to teach children about our history because it’s not being taught in the public schools. We, as older citizens of Terrell, need to past that on. People have to get involved. We need the whole community to join in and take hands and be a community.”