By Jade Ortego
Killeen Daily Herald
An article from Aug. 2, 1685, recounts an emancipation jubilee in Brooklyn just two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It reports: "A Great Day, No Trouble, Fun, Frolic, Music and Happiness."
The 14th annual Jubilee Day celebration Friday night in Killeen was in a similar spirit. It was held to honor the signing of executive orders declaring slavery illegal in America on Sept. 22, 1862, and Jan. 1, 1863. Although not every slave was freed on those days, thousands were, and it was the beginning of the abolition of the "peculiar institution."
Councilman Ernest Wilkerson spoke at the event, encouraging the many men, women and children gathered to remember their history, have hope for their future and keep striving for more.
"If we don't educate our children, if we don't teach them their history, if we don't teach them that 'just enough' is just not enough – we won't be in a true slavery, but we'll be in an economic slavery," Wilkerson said. "Faith without works is dead. It's time to do the work."
Mayor Tim Hancock also took the stage to encourage people to vote in March.
The Killeen Branch of the NAACP, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year, hosted the event. Members cooked and served a meal of chicken, dirty rice, collard greens and corn bread – food traditionally eaten by slaves, said Rosa Hereford, the communications director for the local NAACP.
People mingled with their friends and families while waiting for the meal.
"I came out to enjoy the fellowship," said Gladys Peterson, in the Youth Works committee of the NAACP.
Cherisse Delgado, 17, the youth vice president of the Killeen NAACP chapter, said she went because she needs to know about her culture.
"I feel that it's important for youth to stay rooted in their community. You won't know where you're going unless you know where you came from," Delgado said.
The event is usually held in January, but this year the group chose to celebrate in February, which is Black History Month. Friday was also the anniversary of Lincoln's birthday.
Contact Jade Ortego at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow her on Twitter at KDHcourts.