Abilene prepares to celebrate Juneteenth which is officially now a federal holiday

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) —Thursday, June 17th, President Joe Biden signed a new bill officially making Juneteenth America’s newest federal holiday.  

Here in Abilene, the Paramount Theatre’s marquee has become known for its messages, and Friday was no different. The sign, paying tribute to Juneteenth.  

“We come to celebrate the freedom of slavery.” 

Teresa Harris and her grandchildren traveled all the way from Kansas City Missouri to be with their relative in Abilene on this year’s Juneteenth. 

“We all get together, we eat, we dance, we celebrate and its peace,” says Harris.  

The celebration commemorates June 19, 1865, when union troops landed in Galveston several months after Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant. On that date, the last of the enslaved African Americans were informed that the civil war had ended, and they were free. 

“It’s absolutely amazing that we’re finally being acknowledged for the pain, for the suffering, for the things that we went through. So, Juneteenth is actually to teach the freedom – this is who we are.” 

Shawnte Fleming along with her non-profit organization “Let Us Breathe” will be hosting a weekend of events in Abilene in celebration of this date. 

“We’re going to celebrate that we can dine where we want to, buy and drive and do what we want to do because we have those freedoms now,” says Fleming. 

And Harris says this is tradition she will teach her grandchildren about what their forefathers went through to get to where they are today. 

“They’re free to walk the streets, free to come to theaters like this. They’re free to go into restaurants and don’t have to go through the back doors. They’re free,” says Harris.  

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