Celebrating the importance of Juneteenth

Juneteenth is one of the most significant, but often untold or forgotten events in American history. (Source: KNOE)

MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Blending the words June and nineteenth, Juneteenth is the oldest known U.S. celebration of the end of slavery.

On June 19th, 1865, Union Maj. General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and the enslaved were now free. This, more than two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.

"If you want to put it into simple terms, this is our 4th of July," said Marie Brown, a community activist, and Juneteenth organizer.

The Executive Order had little impact on the Texans when it first went into effect due to the small number of Union troops to enforce it.

Marie Brown's mission is to make sure everyone understands one of the most significant, but often untold or forgotten stories in American history.

"We invite everyone to come out to Juneteenth because you need to know my history also. I know your history. It's only right that you know my history," said Brown.

Brown stressed the importance of passing these teachings to the upcoming generation.

"I would be remiss in not telling those children so that they can know that you have to work to hold this spot. And that is the key to it because somebody went through something for you to get here. So this is why we want to make sure we share the history with the children."

It's a task she feels rests on the shoulders of everyone, not just African-Americans.

"If you feel like your ancestors went through something you feel better and say to yourself, 'you know what, I want to make sure they're proud of me.' Because the blood is on the land. So it's our goal to make sure our children carry this story on. The bible tells us that. So our history in America is very important," said Brown.

There are several events in North Louisiana over the next two weeks to commemorate this holiday. The 8th Annual Juneteenth Unity Parade is set for next Saturday, June 29th. Line up starts at 8 a.m. at Wossman High School.

Louisiana started recognizing Juneteenth as a statewide holiday in 2003.