On Saturday, the Faulkner County branch of the NAACP will hold a Juneteenth 2014 celebration from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1272 Sutton St.
Charles Holloway, president of the local chapter of NAACP, said, "Juneteenth is about the community coming together, helping one another, celebrating the successes we have, but realizing there’s still room for improvement."
Juneteenth is a holiday that celebrates the end of slavery. According to a press release from Holloway, on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston, Texas, delivering the news that the war was over and the enslaved were now free. The commemoration of this event, Juneteenth, became an official Texas state holiday in 1980. This year will be Faulkner County’s fifth celebration, Holloway said.
"In light of the recent tornado, we are dedicating this year’s Juneteenth to the tornado victims. It will be a while for them, and some of their lives will never go back to the way they were before the tornado, but we want those folks to come out.
"We were very involved in the tornado cleanup activity. For two or three weeks we didn’t even think about Juneteenth," he said.
He added he saw a diverse group of volunteers come together to help the tornado victims. He said this demonstrates the progress of the community and of the nation over the past 150 years.
Holloway said some people have the idea that NAACP is only for a certain group of people, but he said the Faulkner County chapter is actually very diverse.
"We’re hoping for a multicultural event, even though it celebrates an African American achievement. I think everyone has had some part in that achievement. Look at General Granger and his troops. These were Union soldiers. They were predominantly white. But these folks were in trouble and needed help, and they were willing to do whatever it took to get those people free."
As for what NAACP does in Faulkner County, he said, "We try to be a liaison between the community and government. We’re involved in education. We try to partner with the school district, work to raise test scores, give our students a chance to complete high school and hopefully go on to college or trade school. Before Affordable Health Care, we had been trying to find ways to make health care accessible, so that legislation has been something we’re interested in. We try to get involved in all kinds of things that affect the citizens.
"The core foundation is to make sure that everyone has civil rights. We’re not lawyers, but we often get involved when people feel their civil rights have been violated. We try to find a compromise if we can. We want to be at the forefront of issues in the community."
Holloway said he is proud of the county’s elected officials.
"I think they understand diversity. It’s been good partnering with them. They’re open-minded. I think they’re here for all people."
He said he hopes people of all cultures will attend the celebration and enjoy music, games, free food and a family-oriented atmosphere.
"I just want everyone to know they are welcome," he said.
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