Lake Charles residents celebrate Juneteenth

Lake Charles residents celebrate Juneteenth
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) – Members of the Southwest Louisiana community held several events today commemorating Juneteenth.

Juneteenth marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The holiday honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday.

Community members told KPLC why the holiday is important to them.

Amaya Burkes, who was crowned Miss Juneteenth, said today is about heritage and respect.

“This is a day that more people should come out and support because it shows the day African Americans were able to be free, and our ancestors died for this, so it’s very important for us to come and celebrate. It’s a very important day; it’s not just another day off, but to celebrate our independence,” said Burkes.

One very popular Juneteenth event was held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Lake Charles. Senior bingo was a major hit; participants could come together to play games and learn about history. William Brent, CEO of Southwest Louisiana Center for Health Services said it’s an honor to be able to celebrate independence 159 years later.

“For me, today is a day to recognize some of the dark history our country has went through,” said Brent. “I look back at my ancestors and some of the things they had to do for me to be able to stand here, so I’m just honored.”

The KPC Hall on Opelousas Street also hosted a Juneteenth Family Fun Day from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday. There was food, education, a kid’s zone, live music performances, a sauce cookoff and more.

Juneteenth will wrap up with a fireworks show over the downtown Lake Charles lakefront.

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