MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Juneteenth is now a federal holiday and marks when the remaining slaves in Galveston, Texas were freed by federal troops more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.
Organizers in Memphis have been celebrating the historic date for nearly 30 years.
From the band, majorettes, plus food and vendors, the Memphis Juneteenth Festival has deep meaning for those old and young celebrating the final ending of slavery in the U.S.
“Juneteenth means freedom and one thing about is in the city of Memphis we are free to be what God has called us to be and is using us to unite and celebrate with all kinds, Black, white, Hispanic, whatever the color,” explained festival president Telisa Franklin.
She wants those who come out to enjoy the festivities to reflect.
“For me, I understand that Juneteenth is my purpose to use this platform to show that we as a city are working together to me forward for the betterment of our city," Franklin said.
Franklin said that's by educating youth on the more than 250,000 slaves finally freed in Galveston, Texas by federal troops.
June 19, 1865 – now Juneteenth - came after the Emancipation Proclamation. Franklin said that victory is being celebrated at Health Sciences Park is doubly momentous.
“We all know Nathan Bedford Forrest was the old slave master, right?" recalled the festival president. "So here we are on the park was once named (after) him, where he was buried him and his wife. Now, their bodies have been exhumed, and now we're celebrating Juneteenth on this ground.”
Franklin said it’s imperative that people, especially children, understand their history.
“The slaves, even back in 1865, their lives mattered," Franklin said. "We're going to continue to mention it and share with our young people."
It teaches the legacy of never giving up hope.
“If we don’t teach it to our children, who else will?", Franklin continued.
The Memphis Juneteenth Festival continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. You can check out more festivities here.