The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Educational celebration

Photo by Photo by Meredith Seaver

The George H.W Presidential Library and Bryan-College Station community celebrated Juneteenth with the annual freedom walk and interactive storytelling series featuring award-winning storyteller Decee Cornish Thursday morning.
Camps and recreation centers including the Brazos Valley Boys and Girls Club, North Bryan Recreation Center, and the Lincoln Recreation Center took part in the event. The celebration featured a freedom walk which extended from the Lincoln Recreation Center in College Station to the Bush Library, ultimately spanning about three miles. The day concluded with an interactive storytelling panel.
Dr. Shirley Hammond, director of Education at the Bush Library helped put the event together and said the event began as a way to honor former First Lady Barbara Bush’s memory.
“We began with the event with the concept reaching out to the community with providing literacy and civic literacy and that’s something that Barbara Bush has always stood by and we want to continue to carry her legacy and help the youth become more literate,” Hammond said.
Juneteenth is one of the oldest celebrations commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It was June 19, 1865 when the abolition of slavery was announced in Texas. The holiday is celebrated annually and the celebration began at the Bush Library in 2003.
Decee Cornish, a Texas State five-time storytelling champion and interactive panelist, said the holiday is truly special.
“The thing I love about Juneteenth is that it is truly a freedom day,” Cornish said. “It’s something that really gets overlooked, and for me having stories and history come together where I can communicate and teach kids is what I take away most.”
Cornish’s stories touched upon life lessons and morals through the understanding of slavery and history.
Tamia Turner is one of the children who participated in one of the stories and said the event taught her the true meaning of the holiday.
“I really enjoyed the event, it really helped me learn and understand what Juneteenth was all about while having fun,” Turner said.
Cornish had children from the audience play instruments and help amplify the elements of the stories.
“One of the main things is having kids read; a lot of them are so afraid to ask permission on things and be smart,” Cornish said. “I was such a voracious reader when I was a kid, the encyclopedia was always something that I took advantage of,” Cornish said.
Cornish, an Air Force Vietnam veteran and Prairie View A&M graduate, has been all over the world from Southeast Asia to Australia. He grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and even had ties to the Bush family.
“My mother was a maid for the Bush family,” Cornish said. “She would always come home with their old clothes and I’d end up wearing all their clothes that they didn’t want anymore. It’s amazing knowing the Bush family and now I get to speak on the stage of George’s library,” Cornish said.
Cornish said Americans today can learn a lot from Juneteenth.
“Juneteenth is one of those days that should bring people together,” Cornish said. “We’ve come a long way as a whole, but a lot of the stuff we saw and learned about still happens today. We need to stop that.”

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