Shreveport community leaders celebrate Juneteenth becoming federal holiday

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Community leaders in Shreveport are sharing their sentiments after lawmakers passed a bill that officially made Juneteenth a federal holiday Wednesday evening.

Vencil Holmes, chairman of “Let the Good Times Roll” and Councilwoman Tabatha Taylor spoke on how important the holiday is for the county.

“When the news made it to Texas and they found out about it that’s how I felt today. I was like it’s about time,” said Holmes.

On January 1st, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, issuing that all slaves become free. However, all slaves were not officially free until June 19, 1865, when major general Gordon Granger arrived with federal troops in Galveston, Texas, and issued an order informing the last enslaved people they were free.

“It is our heritage, it is our culture, it is understanding what our ancestors went through to make it to this point. They dealt with a lot of suffering and a lot of heartaches, so it’s overdue and just because we deserve it.”

As congress pushed the bill through to make its way through a federal holiday he wants other races to take time out and learn the true history of this country; and celebrate with them as they continue to break barriers.

“A lot of times in history we want to look over the negative parts; slavery was a negative blemish on America’s history. but they don’t want to look at that because it’s uncomfortable. it is the uncomfortable truth but it happened.”

“It is imperative for us to embrace this holiday, to celebrate this holiday but to make sure that we pass what we know on to our children and our children’s children in order for them to understand the legacy and heritage they created in building this country,” said Councilwoman Taylor.

“It is something we should embrace as I look to go across racial lines and say ‘Hey come together and learn and understand our history as we’ve learned so much of yours.’”

Holmes says his grandmother tough him at a young age what Juneteenth meant.

“I remember when I was five, my grandma told me about juneteenth. I didn’t know because I was getting excited about the fourth of July. She told she was like ‘Well let me tell you about something else that is a fourth of July likewise,'” he said.

Holmes says this is not just a holiday for African American people but a celebration for all to understand a group of people who have been oppressed for so long.

“I really believe if more of other cultures understood it, I think it would really help them understand what we say and why we say things; and how we feel about things.”

As people prepare for a fun weekend full of Juneteenth initiatives he said in order for people to understand the holiday they must be willing.

“Being open-minded, don’t push it under the rug, don’t sweep around it be opened minded and understand that this is something that happened,” Holmes said.

The bill now heads to President Biden’s desk for signature into law.

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