By Brittany Anderson
HAYS COUNTY — On June 19, 1865, thousands of Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay to announce that the thousands of slaves in the state were free. On the 157th anniversary of their emancipation, the Hays County community continues to honor the holiday.
Hays County first kicked off Juneteenth celebrations during the June 7 commissioners court meeting by declaring June 2022 as a month-long celebration of Juneteenth in the county.
Kyle’s Parks and Recreation Department held the Kyle Market Days – Celebrating Juneteenth event at Mary Kyle Hartson City Square Park on June 11. Kyle Market Days takes place on the second Saturday of each month with local vendors, but the Juneteenth celebration included a special Juneteenth proclamation and live performances, including from Houston Ballet’s first African American ballerina Sandra Organ Solis to the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” performed by the Rock Praise Group. Dr. Vanessa Westbrook also spoke.
The city also hosted a Dialogue for Peace and Progress series on June 17 focusing on Juneteenth. The series works to join community members and leaders for open and honest conversations to raise awareness and facilitate change in the city. The dialogue marked the second anniversary of the series and the sixth iteration of the series.
The Kyle Area Senior Zone (KASZ) held a flag raising ceremony on June 19 as the city’s first flag raising ceremony commemorating both Juneteenth and the second anniversary of it being signed into law as a federal holiday.
The Buda community and descendants of its historic Antioch Colony joined together for the 3rd Annual Buda Juneteenth Celebration at Buda Amphitheater and City Park on June 18. The celebration included music, craft and food vendors and activities for kids including book readings, chalk drawing and more. Several speakers and local officials also addressed the crowd.
Community members gathered with academic and historian Dr. Daina Ramey Berry at the Cephas House on June 18 for a book signing and to hear many untold stories of Juneteenth. The event was put on by the Calaboose African American History Museum.
The Juneteenth Foundation hosted a slate of Juneteenth events. The 28th annual barbecue cook off took place on June 17 and 18 and concluded with an awards ceremony. A Unity Walk was held on June 18 and included participants such as the LBJ Museum of San Marcos. The museum later had African American art and portraits on display.
The Dunbar Heritage Association (DHA) held a Fathers, Family & Freedom Juneteenth celebration on June 19, coinciding with Father’s Day. Activities included games like bingo and cards, a silent auction, gospel, R&B and jazz live music and an educational segment.