In 1865, slaves in Texas were the last to get word they had been freed and celebrations on June 19 have continued ever since. Before that anniversary next Wednesday, Burkburnett residents are throwing one huge Juneteenth celebration this weekend.
For the first time in years, there will be a grand celebration in Burkburnett that honors the official end of slavery in America with mud volleyball, a 5K Freedom Moonlight run, live music and more and it all kicks off Friday evening.
“It’s time for us to really get back to educating our young ones about what this is all about,” Burkburnett Juneteenth celebration co-chair Pamela Dixon said.
Pamela Dixon, who was born and raised in Burkburnett, said there has not been a Juneteenth celebration in the city on a large scale in a very long time. It is something she remembers, but she also remembers stories from her father about even bigger celebrations.
“He has told that there were celebrations for the Juneteenth that started as early as 1937 when he can remember,” Dixon said.
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
Dixon said her dad told her stories of farmers donating livestock for a huge barbecue and community picnic, an event that was in a more central location and attended by people of all races.
“It was a good time for everyone involved, there was no animosity, no racial disparity or anything of that nature at that time,” Dixon said.
So in an effort to bring back that unity, Dixon as well as Pastor Carl English of the Providence Baptist Church in Burk, have partnered with the city, the chamber, and the school district to present a Burkburnett Juneteenth celebration like no other.
“We wanted to do this in Friendship Park and the center of Burk, so everyone would understand that it is all inclusive, everyone is invited and this is the way we bridge the gap to unity,” English said.
Those involved hope this Burkburnett celebration not only brings surrounding communities together but that it also educates the youth on the history and importance of Juneteenth.
The event kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday and goes until about 10 p.m. and then the official opening ceremony starts at 9 a.m. Saturday.