June 19, 1865, marked the end of slavery in the State of Texas and the beginning of a joyous annual celebration of freedom in our state known as “Juneteenth.” 154 years have passed since that historic day, but the DeSoto Public Library did their best to recreate the spirit of that joyous day with their “Voices of Freedom” celebration held Wednesday Afternoon, June 19, 2019.
“I am proud of the Juneteenth celebration that the DeSoto Public Library held on Wednesday because it taught us to cherish our freedom and reminded us that there have been times in history when people have unjustly had their freedoms taken away from them,” said DeSoto Mayor Curtistene S. McCowan. “So while it is important that we celebrate, we should always remember that freedom can be fragile and that we often have to be prepared to fight to preserve it.”
DeSoto included many different elements into Wednesday’s celebration which ranged from joyous to sobering. DeSoto’s Golden Voices Men’s Chorus lifted up the crowd with strong renditions, including “Amazing Grace” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Two DeSoto teens moved the gathering with selected readings from noted African American writers. And El Centro College History Professor Dr. LaTrese Adkins Weathersby read from General Order No.3 which ended slavery in Texas but she noted that it ran counter to the celebration of freedom because it also called on freed slaves to continue to work as paid employees of their former masters.
The push for historic accuracy even extended to the food that was offered to guests. Red Soda and Tea Cakes, both historic symbols of the Juneteenth Holiday were served. Red Soda was the first drink that many freed slaves selected because it was previously denied them. It is also said to symbolize the blood spilled during slavery. And tea cakes were one of the basic pastries made and eaten by slaves.
DeSoto's “Voices of Freedom” Juneteenth Celebration is one of many fun and educational events held by the DeSoto Public Library. To learn more about the library or their events please visit their webpage at www.ci.desoto.tx.us/110/Library