VERNON (KFDX/KJTL) — “To a people whose skin has been kissed twice by the sun: We celebrate this now national and federal holiday that we call Juneteenth,” Vernon City Commissioner Place 1 Early Williams III said.
On January 1st, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation freed more than 3 million enslaved people in the confederacy.
But enslaved people in Texas did not receive the news in a timely manner.
Robert thomas//vernon resident
“june the 19th, 1865, the enslaved peoples of galveston, texas learned that they were free. But although that came two and a half years earlier before they got the news.”
The city of Vernon’s Juneteenth celebration began with the commemoration of a mural of Vernon legend Harvey Dean, aka the Tamale King.
King put his three children through college by selling tamales out of his pushcart for almost 50 years.
“You honor us when you honor our father especially on Juneteenth and this Father’s Day weekend,” Harvey Dean’s youngest son Michael Dean said.
At Lyday Park, city and faith leaders led the acknowledgment of the holiday by praising Vernon’s strides as a city, but also explaining that more can be done.
“I think Vernon is a city that’s on a path to be one of the most diversified, one of the most complete and the best cities in the world. Not just proclaimed by us but people around the world,” Wood Street Baptist Church Pastor Reverend Norris Thomas said.
“We are riding on the backs of somebody else. And I’m sure the blood is crying out from the grave and pushing us forward saying that we can make a change here in Vernon, Texas,” Thomas said.
As the city of Vernon and the nation recognizes America’s newest national holiday, Vernon leaders want to make sure people never forget the reason for this season.
“We will never forget those who died and those who waited to see this day recognized and this freedom experience. We will never forget Bloody Sunday. We will never forget Black Wall Street,” Williams III said.
“I was born free. And i am free. I’m free to see justice, I’m free to have better healthcare, I’m free to live in a house of my liking, I am free, free, free. Free indeed, I’m free indeed, I’m free at last,” Thomas said.
Harvey Dean’s mural is on the corner of Wilbarger and Main street on the side of Igou Appliances.