GREAT FALLS — On Saturday, June 19, from 1 – 5 p.m., there will be a celebration of "Juneteenth" in the bandshell area of Gibson Park.
The free event will include a proclamation from the Mayor; a historical overview; speakers from the YWCA, the Great Falls Public Library, and Malmstrom Air Force Base; and The Alexander Temple’s New Birth Choir. There will also be a DJ from Malmstrom AFB playing music, and the Voyagers baseball team mascot Orbit will be there.
The website Juneteenth.com provides this overview of the occasion:
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.
Organizers said in an email that: "It’s a time to enjoy great food, good music, and fun games as families, friends, and community members. And to celebrate the tie that truly binds us all as Americans: our freedom."
If you would like more information, call Susie McIntyre at 406-453-0181, or Mary Moe at 406-868-9427.
The event is being organized by the YWCA of Great Falls, the Great Falls Public Library, and NeighborWorks Great Falls.
As of Thursday, June 17th, Juneteenth is now officially a federal holiday, with President Joe Biden signing the "Juneteenth National Independence Day Act" into law.