The significance of Juneteenth National Freedom Day was apparent at Petersburg National Battlefield on June 15th.
Guests, including Lt. Colonel Howard Baugh of the Tuskegee Airmen, United States Congressman J. Randy Forbes, and Petersburg Mayor Annie Mickens joined Superintendent Bob Kirby to discuss the meaning of freedom and its place in American history. The day's programs included speeches, musical performances, and living history. Coordinators Treska Wilson-Smith and park ranger Grant Gates arranged the well-attended event, which filled the park's new auditorium.
The annual Juneteenth event commemorates the freeing of all slaves on June 19, 1865, two years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on slaves in the state of Texas due to the fact that there were not enough troops to enforce it. In June of 1865, Union forces arrived in Galveston, Texas to finally put an end to the "peculiar institution."
The legacy of this event has lived on reminding future generations of the importance of freedom in the preservation of human dignity, and inspiring people of all races to work together for a stronger society.