An historic photograph of a Juneteenth or Emancipation Day celebration held on June 19, 1900 in "East Woods" on East 24th Street in Austin. Public domain photo
San Marcos Juneteenth celebrations
The Juneteenth Foundation, Inc. (JFI) and the Dunbar Heritage Association (DHA) have revamped their annual citywide Juneteenth celebrations this year in order to celebrate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in America. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston with news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were now free — two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official Jan. 1, 1863.
According to Dunbar Heritage Association Secretary Jonafa Banbury, large celebrations of Juneteenth began in 1866. For African-American communities this day became tantamount to the Fourth of July and the celebrations contained similar fare — speakers with inspirational messages, reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, barbeques, games, rodeos and dances.
Banbury said Juneteenth is a great reminder of the progress of freedom and how far the nation still has to go to attain it for all citizens — especially right now.
“Juneteenth is a reminder, right smack dab in the middle of this social climate that there is still a lot of inequality. We have two days that mark freedom — Fourth of July and Juneteenth — we are still segregated in the way that we acknowledge and honor who’s free and who’s not,” Banbury said. “And just to celebrate it and honor it with us is a form of activism — an important social movement because we’re still asking to be treated equally and to have our civil rights be implemented equally.”
Banbury said the Dunbar Heritage Association (DHA) is celebrating Juneteenth this year with an array of online events including a virtual auction, a 5K run and Facebook Live celebration.
The Dunbar Heritage Association was started in 1999 by Harvey Miller, current DHA President Alex Banbury’s grandfather. The mission of the organization was to organize, promote and raise awareness for the three cornerstones of Black culture: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Black History Month and Juneteenth. This is the first year the DHA will host its annual Juneteenth celebration online.
Starting June 12 at 10 a.m. and going to June 19 at 7 p.m., the Dunbar Heritage Association will be hosting a virtual auction via its Facebook page.
Local businesses, residents and organizations all contributed items to the online auction including items like Red Wing work boots, Vera Bradley bags, vintage items, gift certificates for local services and many other items.
Photos and information of items for auction will be posted to the DHA’s Facebook page with a starting bid. Participants can make their offers in the comments section. Some auction items will be marked for locals only, because they are services or items that can only be used in San Marcos. The person with the highest bid as of 7 p.m. June 19 will receive the item. Auction items winners will be contacted by the DHA to arrange a pickup time. If auction item winners bid on nonlocal items, they will also have to pay for shipping and handling for the item. All donations or payments for auction items can be made to the Dunbar Heritage Association’s Venmo at @DHASMTX, Cash App at $DHASMTX or PayPal at PayPal.me.dhasmtx.
The DHA is also organizing a 5K Run that’s asking participants to register then run or walk the distance (3.1 miles/5K) to observe the day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
Participants can register using Eventbrite (eventbrite.com/e/dunbar-virtual-juneteenth-5k-run-tickets-105883566598) to receive an official Juneteenth 5K t-shirt and to be entered to "medal or place" in the race.
To register in the adult group (18 and older) is $20 and to register in the children's group (12-17) is $8. Registered participants can pick up T-shirts on June 18, at the Calaboose African American History Museum Parking lot from 6-7 p.m. All registration fees go back to the DHA’s citywide MLK Celebration held every January.
Organizers encourage anyone running outside to practice social distancing and observe the rules set forth for physical distancing in public parks and trails by the respective county or municipality along with following CDC guidelines.
Participants are encouraged to run/walk with people in their household and maintain 6 feet apart from anyone not within their household. The run/walk may be completed in a neighborhood, around an open track, on a trail or a treadmill.
To compete for a medal, participants must complete the 5k between 7 a.m. and noon on June 19. Participants can record their time/distance using any smartphone app or Fitbit device. And screenshots of recorded times/distances can be sent through Facebook Messenger to the Dunbar Heritage Association’s Facebook page. Whoever completes the distance in the shortest amount of time, will be notified they won and receive a medal for 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in the adult category or 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the kids category. Winners may pick up their medals between 12:30-1:30 p.m. on Juneteenth in the Calaboose African American History Museum parking lot.
The final event the DHA has organized is its Facebook Livestream Celebration The virtual celebration goes live at 3 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m. on June 19. The line up includes the singing of spirituals, a discussion on the importance of Juneteenth, a gospel choir, dancing, spoken word performances, a virtual line dance and barbecue demonstrations and award-winning DJ Hella Yellar.
Go to the Dunbar Heritage Association’s Facebook page starting at 3 p.m. on June 19 to see the live stream. For any questions about DHA Juneteenth events, email the Dunbar Heritage Association at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 737-999-0403.
San Marcos’ Juneteenth Foundation has been in existence since 1994 and is known for hosting the Juneteenth Charity BBQ Cook-Off that fills Plaza Park with delicious smells every year. This year, the Juneteenth Foundation is hosting the 2020 Juneteenth Charitable Fundraising Campaign in lieu of the Charity BBQ Cook-Off.
“The event usually takes place at Plaza Park on the river,” Juneteenth Foundation Treasurer Debra Anderson said, “however, this year there is not going to be a cook-off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead JFI is launching a fundraising event to raise funds to be donated to organizations such as the Hays County Youth Livestock Show, Citizens in Need, Calaboose African-American History Museum, scholarships for San Marcos High School students and other charitable programs within the Hays County community.”
Community members can participate in several ways: By making a monetary donation; barbecue teams can donate the fees usually spent to participate in the cook-off or alternately, host a mini barbecue cook-off or sell barbecue plates to raise funds for JFI.
Anderson said the JFI requests community members who participate in any way to take pictures and email them to email@example.com and photos will be posted on the Juneteenth Foundation’s website (www. juneteenthfoundationinc.org). Anderson said the long standing tradition of the Rose Brooks Cake Auction is going to be rescheduled for later this year.
“Last, but certainly not least, we cannot forget Rose Brooks Cake Auction, she has been part of the JFI’s Charity BBQ Cook-off for as long as it has been in existence,” Anderson said. “Please make sure to keep your eyes and ears open for her event — she is determined to have her event sometime this year in some form or fashion.”
For questions or information, email juneteenth.cookoff@ gmail.com or call 512-738-7773.
DHA Juneteenth Schedule of Virtual Events:
•3-3:15 p.m. - Talk: What is Juneteenth & Why It's Important in 2020
•3:15-3:45 p.m. - "Negro Spiritual: The Language of Our Ancestors "with vocalist Joshua Banbury
•3:45-4 p.m. - A & B Selection with soloist Pamela Mitchell Watson
•4-4:30 p.m. - Giving God the Praise: Gospel Choir led by Minister Wayne Thompson
•4:30-4:35 p.m. - Dance by Xavier
•4:35-5 p.m. - Talking Freedom: Spoken Word/Poetry Birdie Deshay Jefferson & Marvin Merriweather •5-5:30 p.m. - Get up & Get Movin'- Virtual Line Dance led by Lee Merriweather
•5-5:30 p.m. - Get up & Get Movin'- Virtual Line Dance led by Lee Merriweather
•5:30-6 p.m. - This is How WE Do It: BBQ Demonstration
•6-7 p.m. - Old School Throwback Jams featuring "Multiple Award winning DJ" DJ Hella Yellar
Go to the Dunbar Heritage Association’s Facebook page starting at 3 p.m. on June 19 to see their live stream of speakers, singers, artists, performers and demonstrators.