Several local residents filled the Killeen Community Center on Saturday for the 25th annual Juneteenth Celebration.
The Killeen chapter of the NAACP hosted a worship service and picnic to bring the community together to celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation.
“The worship service encompasses Juneteenth with the jubilee and the celebration of finding out that the slaves were freed,” said TaNeika Driver-Moultrie, Killeen NAACP president. “It’s all about the community coming together on a unified front to celebrate the freeing of slaves in our diverse community.”
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the country. On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger led Union soldiers to Galveston with news that the enslaved were free. The news came 2½ years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
“We can understand the jubilee and the celebration that was felt. It’s a very important piece of African-American history, and it’s so very important to keep that piece of history alive,” Driver-Moultrie said. “It was a great day in our history and it’s a great day to celebrate.”
The Juneteenth celebration kicked off Wednesday with the annual pageant followed by a parade Friday. On Saturday, following the worship service with Pastor Wilfred Brewster, attendees enjoyed a picnic and various activities, including dominos, spades and arts and crafts.
Mayor Scott Cosper and members of the Killeen NAACP honored Rosa Hereford at the event, celebrating the 30th anniversary of her being elected to the Killeen City Council. Hereford, who served on the council from 1984 to 1990 and from 1991-1997, was the first woman to hold a seat on the city’s governing body.
“I am so proud to be in a community where everybody is included, everybody participates,” Cosper said. “Today is worth celebrating. I am so glad that our community is not only as diverse as it is, but that we interact together. ... This is what America needs to look like.”
The celebration wraps up Friday with a gospel concert at 8 p.m. at the Killeen Amphitheater where the Divine Messengers and The New Soul Invaders will perform.