Juneteenth honors Texas history, community

Nicolas Galindo By Nicolas Galindo

June 18, 2017 at 9:27 p.m.
Updated June 19, 2017 at 6 a.m.

Matthew Gaskin, 76, of Victoria, collects photographs he brought in to display at the Museum of the Coastal Bend's Juneteenth celebration. "There's kids that don't know what Juneteenth is all about," Gaskin said. "We're trying to educate."

Matthew Gaskin, 76, of Victoria, collects photographs he brought in to display at the Museum of the Coastal Bend's Juneteenth celebration. "There's kids that don't know what Juneteenth is all about," Gaskin said. "We're trying to educate."   NICOLAS GALINDO/NGALINDO@VICAD.COM for The Victoria Advocate

If you've never heard of Juneteenth, you are not alone.

Amanda Lanum, 27, education director at the Museum of the Coastal Bend, said many young children and some adults are completely unaware of the important Texas celebration.

Even Lanum, who recently moved to Texas from Florida, didn't know about the event until the date was near.

Juneteenth holds special meaning in Texas because it is when General Order No. 3 was first received in Galveston, freeing the slaves held in the state at the time of the Civil War. While the Emancipation Proclamation did that for the country Jan. 1, 1863, the message was delayed from reaching Texas for another two years.

The Museum of the Coastal Bend has held a Juneteenth celebration every year since 2015.

"It's just to give people a chance to experience Juneteenth and understand what it means to Texas history," Lanum said.

The event included a speaker who talked about the Emancipation Proclamation as well as the history of Juneteenth in addition to a reading of General Order No. 3. Local singers and a choir also helped to celebrate the event.

"It's really nice to see people from the community come out and be able to participate in the event," Lanum said.

Matthew Gaskin, 76, who's on the advisory board of the museum, remembers celebrating Juneteenth growing up.

"We'd slaughter a steer, two sheep, two goats, throw it on a pit at 12 o'clock at night and serve about 200-250 people, and that was every year," Gaskin said. "It was a thing that everybody did."

Juneteenth celebrations have been going on for years and are usually fairly large, Lanum said. Food and music are the centerpieces to help bring the community together to celebrate.

"A lot of people have dropped away from doing it," Gaskin said.

That is why the museum has started hosting an educational event to help inform Texans who don't know about Juneteenth or to educate non-native Texans about this important piece of history.

"It's a chance for people to get a glimpse at history," Lanum said.


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