Baton Rouge celebrates Juneteenth

Kelsey Davis, Reporter - email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - This week, cities across the country celebrate Juneteenth, in remembrance of June 19, 1865, a day that changed history in the South.

It was the day slaves in Galveston, TX found out about the Emancipation Proclamation. The group was one of the last to learn slaves had been freed.

Sadie Roberts-Joseph believes that day is still worth celebrating, 146 years later. She organized this year's event.

"What a day that must have been," she said. "So today, I want us to just reflect."

She said it is reflection on a painful part of history no one talks about, but is necessary to move on.

"Embrace diversity, learn from history and adjust. That's the only way we're going to be able to heal," Roberts-Joseph added.

"I think it's important that they learn where they come from and why we're here and where they need to go, as far as us being an African American race," said Ariel Adams, a first-time attendee to the celebration.

This year's theme is "Inspire, Educate, Inform." Adams said she wants her children to know their worth.

We are a beautiful, smart, creative people. And, that they can do anything they set their minds to," she explained.

Though it appeared small in size, Roberts-Joseph said this gathering at the Now and Then African American Museum in Baton Rouge carries a message for the city.

"We're going to hope that as we release these balloons that we will also release prejudice, harshness, inhibition, anything that separates and divides us so that we can move forward together in unity," she said.

Next Saturday, Donaldsonville will hold its 17th annual Juneteenth celebration. The city's Freedom Festival had been cancelled after losing funds, but organizers said they secured money from other sources and the celebration will go on June 25 in the Louisiana Square Park.

Copyright 2011 WAFB. All rights reserved.