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ORGANIZER RETURNS JUNETEENTH TO ITS ROOTS – DENVER CELEBRATIONS STARTED IN THE 1960S

ORGANIZER RETURNS JUNETEENTH TO ITS ROOTS – DENVER CELEBRATIONS STARTED IN THE 1960S

Rocky Mountain News (CO) – Monday, June 20, 2005
Author/Byline: Clayton Woullard , Rocky Mountain News
Edition: Final
Section: News
Page: 4A
This year’s Juneteenth celebration might have been smaller in size than years past, but the meaning was just the same.

Grace Stiles, founder of the Stiles African American Heritage Center, has been the driving force behind organizing this year’s event, “The Nineteenth of June Family Community Celebration.”

When she heard that the Five Points Business Association did not have enough money this year to put on its annual large festival, “Five Points Juneteenth Celebration,” she refused to let it die and brought the event back to its roots – as a small family event in the heart of Five Points.

“When I was growing up in Franklin (Texas), I thought everyone celebrated Juneteenth,” said the native Texan who’s been living in Denver since 1957. She has been involved in the city’s Juneteenth celebrations since about the time they began in the early 1960s.

Juneteenth is a holiday observed June 19 by black communities all over the country to celebrate June 19, 1865, the day when the slaves in Galveston, Texas, were told that President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier. Over the years, Denver’s celebration had grown to become the largest Juneteenth festival in the country.

While this year’s celebration was a microcosm of the city’s usual event – held on one block near the Stiles African American Heritage Center instead of on several blocks – Stiles and the volunteers wanted to keep the spirit of the day alive: celebration and education.

Stiles said one of her goals was to get young people to be educated about their history and culture.

“This is a holiday that symbolizes the African slaves’ freedom. Your history should be remembered. It’s an enriching part of the nation if we can all celebrate the different holidays together,” Stiles said.

INFOBOX

Juneteenth * Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Source: Juneteenth.Com

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