AUSTIN, Texas — Juneteenth officially became a state holiday in Texas back in 1980, and it's been celebrated with festivities in East Austin's Rosewood since as far back as 1930.
The Greater East Austin Youth Association (GEAYA), in co-sponsorship with the City of Austin, held the Central Texas Juneteenth Parade and Festival on Saturday. The 1.25-mile parade route ran from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Salina Street and traveled down Chicon Street to end at Rosewood Park.
"I've celebrated the 19th of June all my life," said Shirlee Medlock, who attended the parade. "I've always known the significance of it."
Medlock has lived in Austin all her life and said the city's Juneteenth celebrations are priceless to her and her family.
"Being a Black and knowing what the significance is, I wanted my grandson to always realize where it came from, so you can know where he's going to go, which is one of the reasons I think Juneteenth is very important and children have to know what their history is," Medlock said.
Sixty-five different community groups made up this year's parade, including marching bands and dance groups, as well as school and City departments.
"It's high energy, it's joyful, lots of smiles, and it really feels like a safe space to celebrate," said Shanisha Johnson, the public relations coordinator for the Juneteenth parade.
That energy is what Johnson said brings all different types of people together for the celebration.
"This is a celebration of African American freedom from slavery, but anyone who supports freedom for all, please come out and help us celebrate,” Johnson said.
A Juneteenth festival with vendors, live music and entertainment for kids was held immediately after the parade ended at Rosewood Park.