Marshall’s fifth annual Marshall-Harrison County Juneteenth Celebration, consisting of a two-day observance, will kick off this weekend with the annual Miss Juneteenth pageant on Friday, June 14, and parade on Saturday, June 15.

“This is the fifth year, so it’s an exciting year for us and we just want to spread and show love,” said Don Ravenell, who co-chairs the annual event with his wife Alma Ravenell.

“We’re just asking everybody to come out and support it,” said Ravenell.

According to the website, www.juneteenth.com, Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. The holiday, June 19, marks the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas finally learned that the Civil War had ended and slavery had been abolished.

The news, which was delivered in Galveston by Union soldiers, came two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which was issued in 1862 and became official Jan. 1, 1863.

Organizers invite all to come and celebrate this important observance.

“I would just like to thank everybody for continuing to support Juneteenth and just continue to do that,” encouraged Alma Ravenell.

“It’s not about a certain person, but our community as a whole — all of us, coming together and remembering where we came from — and one of those ways we can do it is celebrating Juneteenth because it’s specifically about the African American struggle,” she said.

“Everyone can participate,” the Ravenells said, inviting all to join in the annual parade Saturday and to also support the participants vying for the Miss Juneteenth title on Friday.

MISS JUNETEENTH

The Miss Juneteenth program will be 7 p.m. Friday, June 14, at Smith Park Community Center, 700 Spring St. High school girls ages 14 to 18 are invited to participate by calling committee members Alma Ravenell at 903-930-5461 or Regina Horton at 903-340-7083.

Practice will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with lunch provided. Participants should arrive at 6 p.m. prior to the program. A crown, sash and small cash prize will be awarded. The winner will also represent the annual Juneteenth program at various parades, festivals and community outreach activities.

The program will include a talent portion and fashion show. Marshall News Messenger reporter Robin Y. Richardson will be the keynote speaker.

“I am truly honored and excited to participate in the commemoration of such an important observance that reflects on not only a pivotal part of African American history, but US history as a whole,” said Richardson. “Freedom is something that should be treasured. It’s a blessing. It’s one that came with a heavy price and must never be taken for granted.”

This year’s theme is, “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” Admission is free.

PARADE

The highly anticipated Juneteenth parade will kick off at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 15, starting from the county courthouse in downtown Marshall and ending at Smith Park.

“Everyone can participate,” Don Ravenell said, inviting all youth groups, city and county officials, nonprofits, local businesses, churches and fraternities and sororities to participate.

Entry in the parade is free. Judges will be on site judging floats and more. New this year, the parade will end with a prayer and singing of the “Negro National Anthem,” “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Organizers invite all to come and celebrate this important observance.

SABINE FARMS

Sabine Farm Educational Society will host its annual old-fashioned Juneteenth celebration on Wednesday, June 19.

“As in the past, it will be a day of celebration and remembrance for the significance of that day to us,” said coordinator Helen Murray.

The event will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sabine Farm Historical Site, located off of U.S. Highway 59 South and Farm-to-Market Road 1186.