Midland and Odessa celebrate Juneteenth

MIDLAND-ODESSA, TEXAS (KOSA) -- This weekend marked the beginning of a celebration that will carry on for several days here in West Texas and across the country.

“Juneteenth is an annual celebration of the anniversary of the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, Texas,” Midland councilman John Love said. “So that was the moment in which African Americans realized that they were free from slavery.”

As freed men and women from Texas migrated to other states, they brought the Juneteenth holiday with them, and now June 19 (and the days leading up to it) is celebrated across the country.

“This is an American holiday,” Love said. “This is not an African American holiday. We celebrate it and we hope that others celebrate it with us. It’s important to know your history. It’s important to know who you are, where you come from. Not only that, but it’s important for us to share our story with the public at large.”

In Midland, community members held a parade, followed by cookouts and activities in Washington Park.

“It feels great to be a part of this,” 2019 Mr. Juneteenth Jaythan Jones said. “Because our ancestors did a lot for us, and on the 19th that’s when they found out about the end of slavery. I think it’s very important on this day, so that’s why I’m trying to spread the message to everybody.”

Meanwhile in Odessa, The Boys and Girls Club hosted a basketball tournament that has been a Juneteenth tradition for the last 39 years.

“Kids grow up waiting to play in the Juneteenth basketball tournament,” organizer Danny R. Wright said. “Them seeing one another. Haven’t seen each other in ten years. Haven’t seen each other in five years. This is one time a year that these guys get to come back and play in this little gym, and get a chance to enjoy themselves through competing.”

Activities in Odessa will continue Sunday and Wednesday at Woodson Park.