By Jimmie Ferguson

Killeen Daily Herald

A roaring, standing ovation told the speaker she had gotten her message across during the annual Jubilee Day Celebration in Killeen.

The Rev. Alicia Hines-Kelley explained the history of the Emancipation Proclamation and the role God played in freeing the slaves during the celebration at the Killeen Community Center on Friday. The event was hosted by the Killeen Branch of the NAACP.

"The Emancipation Proclamation is one of the most important and controversial documents in America's history," said Hines-Kelley, pastor of Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Belton, the oldest African-American United Methodist Church in Texas.

"Human slavery was the focus of political conflict in the United States from the 1830s to the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861," said Hines-Kelley, also the pastor of Kell's Branch United Methodist Church in the Whitehall community. "Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate for president in 1860, personally abhorred slavery and was pledged to prevent it from spreading into the western territories."

The preliminary proclamation announced that slaves in Confederate states would become free on Jan. 1, 1863.

"Lincoln thus gave the Southern states one last chance to end the war before losing their slaves, which they did not accept," Hines-Kelley said. "The proclamation did not affect slaves in order to win the war. It was clear to all, however, that slavery would not long survive anywhere once the proclamation took effect."

Hines-Kelley told her guests that moving away from a horrible way of life such as slavery was indeed a miracle and that Friday was an opportunity to thank God for his grace, his goodness and his mercy.

"At the beginning of 2007, we can step out on faith, because we have come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord, trusting in his holy word," Hines-Kelley said. "We have endured slavery, separation and segregation. We have survived intense struggles and have still made tremendous progress. With God on our side, we can and will move forward believing that God is for us and if God is for us, then who can be against us."

Roosevelt Huggins, former president of the Killeen Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, introduced Hines-Kelley as his good friend, his sister in Christ and a dynamic speaker.

Roy Sampson, the new president of the Killeen Branch of the NAACP, pointed out that when the slaves were freed, they didn't have loud, rowdy parties, but they celebrated.

A free buffet meal was served as part of the event.

Contact Jimmie Ferguson at

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