Buda holds its first Juneteenth parade with messages of peace, change and celebration

IMG_9324A variety of cars were lined up end-to-end for the June 19 parade. Some people brought their classic cars, police officers and fire engines were leading the parade. Cars and trucks were decorated in Black Lives Matter flags and people held their artistic signs displaying paintings of black culture.

Buda had a one-of-a-kind parade, for many reasons, celebrating Juneteenth. Not only was this the first time the city celebrated Juneteenth, but it was organized during an increase of coronavirus cases and in the midst of an American social awakening.

Amy Grant, mother of a biracial child, organized the car parade in Antioch Colony to highlight the rich black history in Buda. Antioch Colony was a community built by the hands of freed slaves in 1870. The community continued to see change – from being a farmland that fed many families, to holding a school that educated black children until integration into the Buda school systems. This land continued to thrive by giving residents a community to live in.

“In an amazing show of community strength and support to our black community,” Grant wrote, “we are holding a Juneteenth/Black Lives Matter car parade through a couple of neighborhoods in Buda. It will be a tribute to the descendants of the Antioch Colony, many of which will participate in the procession.”

On the side of the park at Coldwater Hollow, a variety of cars were lined up end-to-end. Some people brought their classic cars, police officers and fire engines were leading the parade, cars and trucks were decorated in Black Lives Matter flags and people held their artistic signs displaying paintings of black culture. The parade gathered many Budaites for seemingly a single cause – Juneteenth, but each person had a reason that brought them out.

For Anthony Evans, an avid activist and who was hit in the jaw and injured by Austin Police during a protest, his reason for coming out was to spread joy and let everyone feel the love for the community he grew up in.

Evans struggled to let his words out due to his wired-shut jaw, but still wanted to tell his message of peace. “I have friends here, so it gives me a chance to come back and show face, let everyone know I’m not just in this for black lives; I’m in this for everyone, I care about everyone’s impression. Everyone should be brought to light and justice.” After making his statement, standing in the bed of a truck with his family, Evans held up his fist with a look of pride.

Among other parade attendees was Winnie Nelson, has her roots ingrained in the community. Her grandfather was in Antioch working with cotton, hogs and more. She grew up in the same community, went to Jack C. Hays High School, but did not want to reminisce on her tough experience there. Instead, she is attending the Juneteenth parade for her grandkids.

“It’s different because my grandkids have never seen this,” Nelson spoke through her black and gold mask, which said “I can’t breathe”. “We have to explain to them where we came from and what’s going on right now to let them know this is a different way for them, it’s going to be a change going on from then.”

Nelson is not alone in her hopes for change.

Many of the city representatives were in attendance, speaking messages about the future and change. Among the city representatives were: Texas State Representative Erin Zwiener, City Council members Ray Bryant, Evan Ture and Lee Urbanovsky, Buda City Manager Kenneth Williams, Hays County Chief of Staff Alex Villalobos, Executive Director of the Buda Area Chamber of Commerce J.R. Gonzales and more.

Bryant said he believes that there is still a lot of injustice happening in America, and in that lies the need for people to continue demanding to be seen and heard so they can achieve their rights.

“I believe strongly that we need to continue to be a voice,” Bryant said. “This is part of being a voice, and we need to continue to be a voice in America to let them know that we don’t agree with the way things were and do want things to change. What we don’t want to do is let go of the momentum that we now have, we need to continue the momentum and push until change happens.”

Bryant’s support for the change does not mean he wants to abolish the police; instead, he said he believes in rooting out the bad police.

This year’s Juneteenth celebration is different, according many of the attendees. Ture said that he went to the parade to stand with those who suffered injustice while celebrating.

“It’s timely to be celebrating Juneteenth in the midst of a lot of things going on,” Ture told the Hays Free Press. “I think this is more celebrating and continuing to carry that message of ‘there are still changes that need to be made and there is still systematic and institutional racism that we have to root out.’ There is a groundswell of growing and understanding of this situation that the country still finds itself in.”

As the parade drivers were finishing up their preparations, Zwiener stood by her yellow Jeep, decorated with the black bold letters “BLM.” Zwiener said she felt grateful to be at the parade, celebrating the inaugural Juneteenth parade. She honored the idea of holding this parade in the historical community of Antioch Colony.

“I think folks are recognizing the importance of celebrating across every single community,” Zwiener said, “regardless of the demographic breakdown of the community. Because of the need to acknowledge that black lives matter and that we still have some real racial disparities in this country.”

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Sahar Chmais holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been covering cities in Hays County for one year, touching on residents' struggles and successes, city issues, COVID-19 and more. Prior to reporting on the local spectrum, Sahar reported for a national news organization, covering gun violence. Sahar enjoys working as a local reporter because she gets to work with real people and their stories.

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