WF organizers prepare for 14th annual Juneteenth event

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WICHITA FALLS(KFDX KJTL) — While the Emancipation Proclamation officially freed all slaves in America on Jan. 1, 1863, the announcement that slaves were freed didn’t arrive in Texas until more than two years later on June 19, 1865. Now, each year this day of freedom is celebrated across the nation.

A few local community organizers said they want this Juneteenth to be different, and they are encouraging the public to participate.

With the ongoing coronavirus crisis and recent protests against police brutality and discrimination, one community activist said this Juneteenth celebration should be a vehicle for all cultures to start a dialogue.

“We are trying to be in the running,” community activist Crystal Washington-Pope said. “We are trying to let all of Wichita Falls know that you can come to the eastside. There has been such a stigma that you will get robbed, you will get killed. It is okay over here. We have kids, we have principles, doctors, we have the same as the other side of the town.”

Youth Opportunities Center Executive Director Madeline Chappell said the past few years she has teamed up with Washington-Pope they have been able to bring positivity to the community.

“I have had the opportunity to do that and help people reach their goals and dreams and have a chance to do something better,” Chappell said.

There will also be social distancing plans in place.

“Everyone needs to take precautions,” Chappell said. “We will be taking precautions on our side as well with sanitizing hand sanitizers, disinfecting sprays, doing everything we can do but it is at a park, so if you don’t feel comfortable, you can sit in your car.”

Both organizers said this year’s Juneteenth will have things that better the people in the community like voter information and a psychologist to talk about mental health.

“She is going to talk about mental health in the black community because a lot of times in our culture, we don’t talk about things, but other cultures do that,” Washington-Pope said. “We also have people who are going to talk about voter registration even though it ended on June 15. You still need to get registered and the information.”

There will also be a water balloon fight, free food, and a mix of different cultures. The event begins at 5:00 p.m with the water balloon fight starting at 7:00 p.m.

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