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Juneteenth events teaching the Valley about the holiday

Juneteenth events teaching the Valley about the holiday
1 month 3 hours 37 minutes ago Wednesday, June 19 2024 Jun 19, 2024 June 19, 2024 11:46 PM June 19, 2024 in News - Local

Bishop Michael smith and his wife, Sharon, have lived in the valley for the last 31 years. They say a lot has changed since they first stepped foot in deep South Texas.

“You didn't see that many African Americans,” Sharon said. “If you went to a church, that's where a majority of them were, but now you can walk anywhere and see [them.]”

The Smiths are part of the city of Edinburg’s Juneteenth Committee. The committee host events every year to teach people about the importance of the day.

“African Americans are here, whether it's just two percent or three percent of the population,” Edinburg Juneteenth Committee Chair Bishop Michael Smith said.

Juneteenth marks the day news of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation reached the 250,000 slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865 — two years after the proclamation was signed.

Since then, Black people across the country have celebrated that day.

“African Americans did have a part in the development of the Valley with the agriculture and the railroad, and the slaves that were not free they came here, and the Mexicans helped them out to cross to Mexico,” Sharon said. “People really need to know there is a lot of rich history down here,” Sharon said.

READ MORE: Historian finding traces of the Underground Railroad in the Valley

Juneteenth became a national holiday in 2021.

The McAllen Public Library celebrated the holiday with a series of events in its locations. 

Over at the Palm View branch, Juneteenth themed tote bags were hand painted.

“We want to make sure we were inclusive and that we celebrate different cultures,” branch manager Esther Herrera said. “It's very important to recognize this monumental era — this monumental day — in our history.”

Watch the video above for the full story.

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