June 19 — a day that goes by many names, from Freedom Day to Emancipation Day and Juneteenth Independence Day — was declared an official Texas state holiday in 1980. Longview’s Juneteenth celebration takes place not just on June 19, but throughout the entire month, commemorating the historical day in 1865 when news of the abolition of slavery made its way to Texas.
Eddie Towles, former vice president of the Longview Metro Chamber of Commerce and a previous organizer of the celebration, said the events are about “unity, fun and fellowship.” Juneteenth promotes respect among cultures, equality for black people, achievement and education.
“It’s a celebration for a good thing, for people to support freedom and fairness and justice,” Towles said. “It’s full of diversity, based on appreciation for all and freedom for all.”
This family-oriented celebration at Broughton Park features a wide range of activities from a parade, to an open softball and golf tournament including teams from nearby cities, a rodeo, a car show, a Miss Juneteenth pageant and more. It will also include entertainment from local bands and a wide array of food provided by local food vendors, such as barbecue, snow cones and fish.
Broughton Recreation Center Supervisor Joey Russ said Juneteenth is “open for anybody and everybody that wants to participate.”
“People come out as families to watch the softball tournament, sit under the trees and barbecue and play cards. It’s just like a family get-together,” Russ said. “We have a lot of older people that have been coming for as long as I can remember and the youth is really getting involved now, coming out and celebrating it.”
This year will be the 38th Juneteenth celebration in Longview, where event organizers support the local community and draw people in from outside the community from places such as Tyler, Dallas and Shreveport. Events are free for the public to attend. (There will be a $10 fee for entries in the parade).
“The different events bring groups of people,” Towles said. “We try to have a lot of fun, wholesome activities that everybody can enjoy. And that’s what people love — food, fun, music. And as long as it’s first class, it has to go good, and it has been.”
Juneteenth remains a holiday reminder of America’s history, the evils of the past, the appreciation for the hard work taken to bring America to the present, and the ongoing hope for the betterment of the future.
Additional details will be announced closer to the celebration.