Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Breaking News

Local News

June 19, 2014

Juneteenth celebration to highlight diversity in the community

Athens — On Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech known as the Emancipation Proclamation. In this proclamation President Lincoln declared "that all persons held as slaves, are, and henceforward shall be free."

The proclamation had little impact on Texans, because of the presence of minimal Union troops within the state to enforce the new Executive Order.

On June 19, 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was delivered, Union forces, led by Major Gen. Gordon Granger landed at Galveston with news of war’s end, and that the enslaved were free.

As General Lee surrendered, Texas slave masters lost influence, and Union soldiers and slaves overcame the resistance against the proclamation.

Several stories try and account for the 2-year delay, but whether or not any of them hold truth is not known. The point is that African Americans were no longer bound by slavery. 

Today, the descendants of these slaves celebrate June 19 as the end of slavery in Texas and across the nation, and you can see why. Although the proclamation was delivered two years earlier, the slaves in Texas toiled for another two years, and thus slavery had not ended in 1863, but in 1865.

Juneteenth celebrations are on the rise, and rightfully so. As with many other celebrated days in the United States, it is a way, not only for African Americans to celebrate their freedom and heritage, but a time for communities and people of all colors to come together, and celebrate a cause that unites us all as Americans.

Many of us celebrate and come together on Cinco De Mayo, which is a day celebrated for the Mexican army's unlikely victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla, and on July 4 to celebrate America's independence from Great Britain.

The Henderson County Black Rodeo Association was aware of the need to celebrate this day in our county, as festivals and events to celebrate other cultures have existed in the county for years. The goal of these celebrations is to bring people of all races together while celebrating the African American culture.

The word "Black" in the organization’s name, their annual rodeos and festivals is not a way to exclude anyone, but a dedication to the first African American cowboy, William “Bill” Pickett.

Bill and his horse, Spradley, invented the rodeo sport of steer wrestling, also known as bulldogging. He introduced the world to the new sport while performing as the first black cowboy in the 101 Ranch Show in the early 1900s.

It wasn't until 1989 that William "The Bull-Dogger" Pickett was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Unfortunately, 149 years after the end of slavery in Texas, and 50 years after the Civil Rights Act that ended segregation, racism is very much alive and real. It comes from people of all races aimed at people of all races.

Henderson County Black Rodeo Association Events Coordinator Toni Johnson described it this way, "People of all colors have been enslaved, either in their mind or physical bodies at one point or another," said Toni. "My whole thing is people. It doesn't matter what color you are. We are about community and people of all races. Our motto is "Unity through Diversity," people of all colors."

The Henderson County Black Rodeo Association held its 3rd Annual Juneteenth Black Rodeo last Saturday, June 14, and nearly sold out the Henderson County Fairpark Complex. The crowd was large and diverse, and the event was wholesome fun for the entire family. Attendance was down this year, because of what the Fairpark Complex described as a scheduling mistake, said Toni.

“Attendance was a little low, due to the change of the date,” said Toni. “After asking for the third week in June, and getting it, they (Fairpark Complex) gave the date to the quarter horse show.  That is why attendance was down. We were locked in, but they said they made a mistake. Just another hurdle, but that opened the door for us to have this event (the upcoming parade). Attendance was down by exactly 865 people from last year, but it's been said that this was the best year ever here in Athens.  We jumped on another organization’s date that has trail rides on the week before our rodeo that they had changed so they could be at our rodeo. So it was a hurdle for sure, but we overcame it."

This Saturday, June 21, HCBRA will hold their 1st Annual Juneteenth Parade and Festival. The parade starts at 1 p.m. at Trinity Valley Community College, and will feature cars, trucks, floats, drill teams, riding clubs, bands and organizations.  The parade route will leave Trinity Valley Community College, turn left on State Highway 19 through town, and cross the tracks and take a right on Needmore to the Fisher High Alumni Building.

HCBRA is inviting people to line up along the route for best viewing of the parade. Parade registration will be at the staging area, if not pre-registered. 

The free Community Family Fun Festival starts at 2 p.m. at the Fisher High Alumni Facility featuring food (free watermelon), games, bounce houses, music, an open-mic talent show (register at the event), mechanical bull-riding contest and more. The Fisher High Alumni building is located at 910 Needmore St. in Athens.

Come out this weekend and celebrate diversity. Regardless of the color of your skin, everyone is in this world together, and have enough to worry about without thinking less of each other because of race.

People of all colors have done extraordinary things for this country that we live in. Let us unite and celebrate the unique qualities of not only our own particular race, but also as the one race we all share:  The human race.  

Text Only
Local News
  • DSC_0127.JPG McDonald’s coming to Mabank

    The corner of North First Street and North Third Street in Mabank is about to look a lot different as a construction crew broke ground Monday.
    A formal ceremonial groundbreaking will be held within the next week to welcome McDonald's to the location just off of Highway 175.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Funeral held for 15-year-old drowned Eustace student

    Funeral services were held on Sunday for a 15-year-old Eustace student who drowned Thursday evening after diving into Cedar Creek Lake.
    The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office investigated the drowning. According to reports, a medical emergency call came to 9-1-1 shortly after 5 p.m. from Timber Bay in the Payne Springs area.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-29 PSCA open house.jpg PSCA seeks new student enrollment

    “Striving to make a difference in each child for eternity,” reads the motto of one local private school seeking new enrollment.
    Payne Springs Christian Academy is looking to enroll new students for the 2014-2015 school year.
    “We are in need of some kids this year,” said Amanda Beets, a mother of one of the school's current students.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Lightfoot-Miller Cemetery to dedicate historical marker

    The Texas Historical Commission, Henderson County Historical Commission and descendants of those who are buried in the Lightfoot-Miller Cemetery invite the public to the dedication of a historical marker at the property.
    The observance is set for 10 a.m. on Aug. 2.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-29 HCHS.jpg ‘Party for the Paws’ event great success

    The Henderson County Humane Society in Athens as well as  Beckham are continuing to celebrate results of the Party For The Paws fundraiser.  Beckham is a dog that was recently adopted from the HCHS.
    HCHS Treasurer Ellen Barton commends those who were involved in the event’s planning and execution. 

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0018.JPG Volunteers now needed for Athens Soup Kitchen

    Athens resident Terry Mayhall walked through the doors of the Athens Soup Kitchen asking if he could just volunteer. Mayhall now spends his Thursdays cooking soup for people who are hungry.
    Athens Soup Kitchen, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The mission is to feed those who are hungry. The facility that feeds 30 to 63 people weekly, opened its door in March 2014.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • 7-26 Mike chamber.png Coston named chamber president

    After a diligent search, the Athens Chamber of Commerce Board has named Mike Coston president. 
    “The chamber board selected a search committee, which consisted of Chamber members, community leaders and business owners,” Ashley Adams McKee, Chairman of the Athens Chamber of Commerce Board, said. “Our committee knew that we wanted to take our time to find the most qualified person to serve as our new president. We had more than 10 applicants and in our first round of interviews we were all equally impressed and excited about Mike's experience and passion for chamber business.”

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Update on restaurant projects given

    City of Athens officials gave an update on some ongoing projects and financial information at a meeting on Wednesday.
    Director of Planning and Development Gary Crecilius said progress on the Cotton Patch Cafe has slowed considerably with the discovery of a possible environmental hazard. The restaurant is being constructed east of the Walmart store on East Tyler Street.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • IMG_3092.JPG HCPAC announces ‘Mattress’ sales

    Why would HCPAC be selling mattresses? Actually, the “mattresses” are tickets to “Once Upon a Mattress,” which opens Thursday, Aug. 7.
    The 26th Annual Youth Summer Musical stars 24 very talented area students, ages 10 through college, and tells the “fractured fairy tale” version of the “Princess and the Pea.”

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-26 CCL Rotary Celebrity waiter.jpg Gearing up for Celebrity Waiter event

    The Rotary Club of Cedar Creek Lake is gearing up for its annual Celebrity Waiter event. The Celebrity Waiter committee met on Thursday to discuss last minute items. The event is scheduled for Saturday, August 9 at Athens Country Club. This will be the 18th year the CCL Rotary Club has hosted the fundraiser. For ticket information call Erin Osborn at 903-887-7486.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo