The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Juneteenth a lasting tradition

Visitors come from near, far for celebration of freedom.


Stephanie Losoya

Organizers for the 2017 Juneteenth Celebration serve others as a way to give back to the community Saturday. Despite heat, everyone in attendance was in high spirits due to the hospitality and great food.

CLOVIS — Community service and fellowship were among the main goals for the first part of this year's Juneteenth Celebration.

Juneteenth was held Saturday at O.G. Potter Memorial Park. An additional celebration will be held on June 25 at 3 p.m. at the Legacy Life Church.

Louise Hunt, who moved to Clovis from Georgia, said she enjoys coming with her family to celebrate Juneteenth.

"They welcome you with open arms," Hunt said, adding that the food is good and there are always nice people to talk to and fellowship with.

"It reminds me of Georgia where they have all kinds of activities," she said.

James Brown, who returns to Clovis yearly from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has a special place in his heart for Clovis' Juneteenth celebration.

"(We have) been given the opportunity to celebrate freedom," Brown said, "not for any one culture," but for everyone.

He said he loves to help because he grew up with other organizers of the event, including William Hall, who has headed the event since its beginning..

"We're like family," Brown said, "it is a family tradition to help each other out."

His wife, Janice Brown, of Oklahoma City said the food preparations begin the day before the event every year when organizers gather to cut and prepare the meat. Then, at 3 a.m. on the morning of, they all get up and start cooking.

Her goal is to "bring everybody together" because it is not "just a black thing, it's community outreach to celebrate."

Jatonne Hall, daughter of William Hall also travels every year from Dallas to celebrate Juneteenth with her father and friends.

"We cook to celebrate," she said adding that long ago, food was the only means of celebration and it has become a beloved pastime.

Hall also said the event has "no color boundaries."

Organizers served barbecue ribs, chicken, and sausage along with corn, potato salad and lots of dessert options. They also made it a priority to serve those over the age of 65 first before the line for food began.

William Hall said the event "always comes together nicely," and that he always has help from to prepare for the big event.

Juneteenth is a commemoration of when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston to announce the end of the Civil War on June 19, 1865. This was two years after President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation which freed the enslaved.


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