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11 June 2014 Written by  Jeffrey L. Boney, Associate Editor

Missouri City, Texas Remembers Juneteenth: Foundation Celebrates 12 Years of Keeping the History Alive

Attendees from Missouri City and all across the Greater Houston will gather again at the Quail Valley City Centre on Thursday, June 12th to help the Missouri City Juneteenth Celebration Foundation (MCJCF) kick-off their twelfth year of celebrating Juneteenth at their VIP Stakeholders Reception.

Organizers have released the schedule for their week-long line-up of Texas-sized family fun, related events and activities slated for this year’s Juneteenth celebration beginning with the VIP Stakeholders Reception and going through June 15th with most events free and open to the general public. Thousands of attendees and participants are expected to join in the citywide celebration of Juneteenth in Missouri City. The MCJCF is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization and is the largest Juneteenth celebration entity of its kind in the nation.

"Each year our celebration gets even better and this year is no exception," said Don Smith, MCJCF founder and current Missouri City, TX, City Councilman. "Our goal remains to bring positive attention to African Americans while celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation."

Many people in this country are unfamiliar with one of the most widely celebrated African American holidays in this country - Juneteenth.

Juneteenth, which is an abbreviated form of ‘June 19th’, is an extremely important historical observance that has grown in popularity across the Gulf Coast and the United States. Also known as ‘Freedom Day’ or ‘Emancipation Day’, it is an extremely important holiday for African Americans in the U.S. because it commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the United States to the 200,000 slaves in the state of Texas on June 19, 1865.

Although President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, the state of Texas, as a part of the Confederacy, was resistant to the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation had originally taken effect on January 1, 1863, but word didn’t reach Texas until two months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant, and more than two years after the proclamation was issued.

Union Major General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 18, 1865 and read General Order No. 3 in Galveston proclaiming, "Slaves are free" on June 19, 1865, Juneteenth eventually spread to Houston, where it is celebrated annually and observed in more than 26 states. Juneteenth is honored similar to the ways we celebrate Independence Day by listening to live music, having community gatherings, youth events, cookouts, religious events, and educational sessions.

As in the past, this years’ MCJCF Juneteenth Celebration will offer a full mix of family infused events and activities throughout the week. Most of the foundation’s planned events are free and open to the anticipated thousands of attendees. The MCJCF will continue their tradition of bringing wholesome, culturally relevant, family oriented and fun-filled entertainment to the community.

The usual list of signature events will be on full display again this year headlined by their world-famous "One Mile of Smiles" Juneteenth Parade featuring the Buffalo Soldiers Color Guard, award winning high school bands and beautiful floats.

The parade will be followed by the Ron Thornton Memorial "Battle of the High School Bands" contest featuring local and regional high school bands in classic high-octane musical fashion. The "Celebrity Scholarship Golf Tournament" allows the foundation to raise much needed funds for scholarships and the MCJCF "Community Service Awards" Gala, which is the flagship event, will feature Texas State Representative Sylvester Turner as the keynote speaker.

A growing and fairly new installment of the annual celebration is the "Funday in the Park", which will transform Hunter’s Glen Park into a full-day main attraction on Friday, June 20th. The "Funday in the Park" will feature water rides at the "Water World" area and interactive games at the Fiesta Kid’s Zone, along with food and beverage vendors. There will also be a "Movie in the Park" segment slated late Friday evening, where a relatively current movie is projected on a gigantic 60-ft screen so that the entire community can come out and enjoy.

The 12th Annual MCJCF Juneteenth Celebration events and activities are as followed:

  • VIP Stakeholder Reception - Thursday, June 12th
  • City Centre’ at Quail Valley Country Club – 2880 La Quinta
  • Celebrity Scholarship Golf Tournament - Monday, June 16th
  • Quail Valley Golf Club – 2880 La Quinta
  • MCJCF "Community Service Awards" Banquet - Thursday, June 19th
  • City Centre’ at Quail Valley Country Club – 2880 La Quinta
  • MCJCF Family "Funday in the Park" - Friday, June 20th
  • Hunter’s Glen Park - 1340 Independence
  • MCJCF "Water World" and Fiesta Kid’s Zone - Friday, June 20th
  • Hunter’s Glen Park - 1340 Independence
  • MCJCF Family "Movie in the Park" - Friday, June 20th
  • Hunter’s Glen Park - 1340 Independence
  • MCJCF World Famous "One Mile of Smiles" Parade - Saturday, June 21st
  • Texas Parkway / FM-2234
  • The Ron Thornton Memorial "Battle of the HS Bands" - Saturday, June 21st
  • Thurgood Marshall High School (Athletic Stadium) - 1220 Buffalo Run

Supporters to date include lead sponsors AT&T and Fiesta Mart, along with community partner, the City of Missouri City.

MCJCF media partners include the Houston Forward Times, Jamsource Magazine, D-Mars, the Missouri City News Online, Missouri City TV and the Fort Bend Independent. Other celebration sponsors include: Wells Fargo, CenterPoint Energy, H.E.B., Rooms to Go, Walmart, Republic Services and Primeway FCU.

For more information, visit www.mcjcf.com.