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Missoula resident Rajiem Seabrook stood in front of a white tent on a big green lawn at Ft. Missoula. He recited words that slaves in Galveston, TX heard on June 19, 1865. That was when a Union officer informed them they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation two and a half years earlier.

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with the proclamation from the executive of the United States, all slaves are free,” Seabrook read to the attendees.

More than 150 people gathered in Missoula on Wednesday, June 19th to celebrate Juneteenth. The reenactment was part of Montana Black Collective Missoula’s Juneteenth celebration.

Seabrook is a founding member of the organization, and said the holiday marks a second Independence Day in the U.S.

“America wasn’t free,” Seabrook said. “Because, if you considered me a citizen, but I’m still enslaved, then I wasn’t free. So, the importance of understanding liberation and freedoms in all its modicums, in all its iterations, is so important.”

The Missoula ceremony is in its third year. Montana was one of the last states to formally observe the holiday in 2017. However, it’s not one of the 28 states that recognize Juneteenth as a paid, legal holiday.

The Montana Historical Society said Black Montanans held Emancipation Day celebrations as long ago as the 1880s, typically later in the summer. Parties often included food, speeches, lawn games, boating, fishing and music.

The Missoula ceremony looked and sounded similar — it opened with “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often called the Black National Anthem, and closed with a cookout.