SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - On June 19, 1865 Union soldiers informed slaves in Galveston, Texas they were finally free two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
For 155 years that day, known as Juneteenth, has been widely celebrated, including right here in Shreveport.
A march and Blackout Festival will take place June 19 in Shreveport.
”I want it to be family friendly,” said organizer P.J. Brown-Coleman. “I want it to be like that family reunion that you always wanted your family to plan. We’re giving out free t-shirts, we’re giving out free face mask, we’re doing everything we can as far as the social distancing guidelines but we have to show up and we have to show out.
Coleman is one of the organizers for this event and wants this to be a way for us to learn and celebrate the history behind this day.
“We’ve heard about it as black people, but we haven’t really embraced it and this is definitely the year... we’re that launching pad,” she said. “Like hey you know what, this is our day of independence and even though we’re still fighting for it, we’re a step closer.”
The march will take place outside of the Municipal Auditorium on 705 Grand Avenue in Shreveport starting at 6 p.m.
People can come, check in to receive a free t-shirt and masks while supplies last. Water stations will also be set up along the route.
The event will begin with a brief clip playing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s 1968 I’ve seen the Mountaintop speech, and then people will begin march through downtown Shreveport.
Dr. King’s speech will be played as people march, and there will be a brief moment of silence for those who lost their lives due to police brutality.
At 7 p.m. people can head to the Red River District underneath the Texas Street Bridge for the festival. There will be live performances, speakers and a variety of local black vendors selling clothing, accessories and other products.
Omari Ho-Sang is part of the group 45 Days of Action and has been working with Coleman over these last few weeks to help create change here in Shreveport.
Ho-Sang hopes people from all backgrounds and races will come out and learn more about this day and its importance to African Americans.
“Culture’s holidays really define that culture and if June 19th in 1865 is when we found out we were emancipated as a people that is a holiday and again it’s not just for black folk but for the nation,” she said.
Those who would like to volunteer to help out with this event or other events organized by 45 Days of Action can sign up HERE.